China's 'Ice Boy' sees life changed a year on

Wang Fuman's story attracted national and international attention to the plight of at least 61 million "left-behind" children of migrant workers living in poverty in China.
Wang Fuman's story attracted national and international attention to the plight of at least 61 million "left-behind" children of migrant workers living in poverty in China.PHOTO: WEIBO
His teacher took pictures of him and shared them on social media, earning Wang the nickname of "Ice Boy" or "Snowflake Boy" in the Chinese media.
His teacher took pictures of him and shared them on social media, earning Wang the nickname of "Ice Boy" or "Snowflake Boy" in the Chinese media.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Chinese schoolboy Wang Fuman first shot to fame in early 2018, when a photo of him with his hair and eyebrows covered in icicles went viral on the Internet.

Wearing only thin clothing, then eight-year-old Wang walked for an hour in sub-zero temperatures from his home in an impoverished county in south-west China's Yunnan province to his school, Zhuanshanbao Primary School, 4.5km away.

His teacher took pictures of him and shared them on social media, earning Wang the nickname of "Ice Boy" or "Snowflake Boy" in the Chinese media.

The photos also showed his frostbitten hands, which had turned dry and wrinkly.

Wang's story has attracted national and international attention to the plight of at least 61 million "left-behind" children of migrant workers living in poverty in China.

One year later, thanks to donations and government aid, Wang and his family has moved out from an old mud hut into a new house just a 10-minute walk away from school, People's Daily reported.

"Our lives will get better and better from now on," the boy's father Wang Gangkui said.

"Compared with the mud walls and muddy roads in the past, we are better sheltered from the wind and rain now," he added.

The elder Wang now works as an electric welder at a construction site owned by China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Co in Yunnan's capital city Kunming. He earns about 200 yuan (S$40) a day.

 
 
 
 

According to People’s Daily, the primary school has also been equipped with heating and new teaching facilities such as a science laboratory, an art room and a computer room, where students have access to digital textbooks.

Students who live farther away from school can stay at the newly-built dormitory, where thick quilts and medicine to prevent frostbite are provided.

"Fuman's overall grades rank in the top five of his class and he gets along well with his classmates," vice-principal Fu Heng told People's Daily.

In the past year since his story broke, Wang took an airplane for the first time, visited Beijing and even appeared on TV.

Wang, now nine, never misses a day of school and dreams of becoming a police officer one day.

During a government-sponsored trip to Beijing, he was given a tour of the Swat team's headquarters and sat in on a class at his dream school - People's Public Security University of China, the country's top police academy.

When asked about the media attention, Wang seemed unaffected and said he prefers to be called by his real name rather than “Snowflake Boy”.

"I just want to study as hard as I can so I can become a real policeman and take down bad people in the world," he told China Daily.