Liu Zhexin (left, sitting) visits the Yi minority students he sponsors in Yunnan Province.(Ti Gong)
Liu Zhexin, a teacher at a leadership-training academy in Shanghai, is no millionaire, but for the past decade, he has donated nearly all his savings and a good portion of his free time to helping needy students in poor rural areas.
Under his sponsorship, nearly 20 students have completed their high school education and entered college.
Liu, born in 1973, worked for a securities company before becoming a professor at the China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong in 2005. His daily job is to give short-term training sessions to government officials and entrepreneurs.
The sponsorship funding started in the same year he joined the academy. At the beginning, it was a campaign initiated by the faculty, but after the campaign was over, Liu decided that what they did was inadequate.
"The campaign was just a one-time thing, but loving a child is lifelong," he says. "You don't just love your own children today and stop loving them tomorrow. Helping other children is the same."
Liu, a native of Fujian Province, turned to the Hope Project, an organization under the China Youth Development Foundation devoted to furthering education in poverty-stricken areas. On the project's official website, Liu found several children in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces who were about to drop out of school because of family difficulties.
Liu sponsored them through the Hope Project for a while. However, when he discovered that "a chunk of the donations was going to administrative fees," he decided to create another charity model.
So Liu came up the idea of a private sponsorship program. In the past 12 years, he has spent nearly 1 million yuan (3,690) on more than 60 children.
"I still keep in touch with them after they go on to college," Liu says. "I formed an online chatting group, and many of these kids have made friends with one another."
Liu says children need more than just money or other material support. Many of their parents have left their hometowns to work in cities, and they see their children only once a year. The children often feel lonely and don't know whom to turn to when they need help or advice.
Apart from keeping in contact online, Liu visits the children every year.