Tycoon follows heart to give back to society

Nice to meet you: Sha getting a warm welcome by students in Fanshi. — CHINA DAILY/ANN

BEIJING: Sha Wanli, manager of a construction company and one of the first private business owners in Fanshi county, Shanxi province, in the early 1980s, thinks that donating money to build schools is the best way help people change their fate.

A landlocked area encircled by the Taihang Mountains, Fanshi was listed as a national poverty-stricken county until two years ago.

Sha, 67, feels happy that all the 266,000 Fanshi residents have now been lifted out of poverty thanks to their hard work over the generations.

He has done his part, too. In the past 40 years, Sha has built a road to the Fanshi Experimental School, renovated and expanded more than 30 primary schools, and founded nine primary schools to ensure that all children in the county have access to basic education close to home.

Born into a poverty-stricken farming family, Sha dropped out of school at 16 because his family could not afford the 5 yuan (RM3.26) tuition fee.

He worked as a bricklayer and coal miner before founding his own construction company in 1983.

He said that his hard early life encouraged his turn to charitable work after he had made his fortune.

Since 1995, he has supported more than 500 college students, and nearly 5,000 middle and primary school students, and has donated a total of 28.3 million yuan (RM18.477mil) to education and poverty alleviation efforts. — China Daily/ANN

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