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Disabled Teacher Bucks the Odds in Isolated Village

Unlike the many rural people who have found themselves unable to endure living in their hometowns and have opted instead to pursue their dreams in the city, Liu Juhua, a physically-challenged teacher, has voluntarily settled down in an isolated village in Hukou County, Jiangxi Province.

His experiment in contrariety seems to be paying off: He has worked in the countryside for almost 10 years now, according to Nanchang-based Jiangnan Metropolitan Daily.

Bailu Bay Village is surrounded by water on three sides and a mountain on the fourth, effectively cutting it off from the rest of the world. Its location has doomed it to poverty.

For many years, children there have had to take a boat and then walk several kilometers every day just to attend classes in a neighboring village.

In 1997, the county education department decided to set up a small school in Bailu Bay Village for pre-school and grade one and two students. However, no teachers were willing to come to the poverty-stricken village - none except Liu.

Liu, who was 41 at the time, suffers from serious disabilities in his right foot and arm due to a bout of polio in childhood. He became a substitute teacher in 1976 and quickly built up a reputation in the school for his hard work.

Considering his disabilities, the school at first refused his application. However, touched by his insistence, they eventually relented. Since then, Liu has been the village's only teacher.

Every day Liu gives 12 classes to dozens of students. His daily workload equals that of four healthy teachers.

Enduring soreness and pains in his back and waist, Liu sits up late at night correcting the students' papers and preparing for class for the following day. Liu is only paid 300 yuan (US$38) a month for his work because he is still considered a substitute teacher.

Despite his meager income, Liu has been generous with the poor students. He often pays for their textbooks and food to give them an incentive to continue studying.

In the past decade, Liu has fully devoted himself to the school, so much so that the now 51-year-old is still single. He can only spare the weekends to visit his mother, who is in her 80s and lives alone in the county.

But as an old saying goes, the more plowing and weeding, the better the final crop. Liu's students have won prizes at some county-level and provincial competitions, and he himself has many times been granted the title of "model teacher".

Liu has been gratified by his students' performance and said that in the past 10 years, he has never regretted his decision to teach at Bailu Bay Village.

(China Daily May 25, 2007)

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