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Gov't Official Commended for Dedication to 'Leprosy Village'

Lin Qiang, an education official from Sichuan Province, was commended in Beijing Friday for his dedication to improve welfare and education of a despised "leprosy village" in a remote mountainous area.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has called on all the Party and government officials to learn from Lin. Vice-President Zeng Qinghong said on Friday officials "should put the interests of the common people first, just like Lin has done."

53-year-old Lin, director of the provincial linguistic committee of Sichuan, found a leprosy recovery village in 2003, where all the patients have been cured but many were left handicapped, and was stunned by the destitution of villagers and their illiterate children.

Leprosy is a chronic, mildly contagious disease, characterized by ulcers of the skin, bone, and viscera and leading to loss of sensation, paralysis, gangrene, and deformation.

China has eradicated the disease 40 years ago, but left cured patients in Abuluoha Village in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan virtually isolated to the outside world, because people nearby are still afraid.

Since 2003, Lin has made a total of 10 trips to the disdained village with an altitude of 3000 meters to help people there build a school, pave roads and have access to electricity.

At a grand conference held in the Great Hall of the People on commending Lin's deeds on Friday, Vice-President Zeng said "Lin is an example of an outstanding official and member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) who serves the people with heart and soul."

Lin told the gathering that "I bumped into this village, I cried and couldn't just go away."

(Xinhua News Agency September 15, 2007)

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