Donations bring warmth to China's Snowflake Boy

Volunteers having a wefie taken with Wang Fuman. Thanks to donations and government aid, the boy and his family have moved out from an old mud hut into a new house just a 10-minute walk from school.
Volunteers having a wefie taken with Wang Fuman. Thanks to donations and government aid, the boy and his family have moved out from an old mud hut into a new house just a 10-minute walk from school.PHOTO: CHINA DAILY

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

Wearing only thin clothing, the then eight-year-old Fuman 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 Fuman the nickname "Ice Boy" or "Snowflake Boy" in the Chinese media.

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

His story drew 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, Fuman and his family have moved out from an old mud hut into a new house just a 10-minute walk from school, People's Daily reported.

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

 
 
 
 

Mr Wang now works as an electric welder at a construction site owned by China Construction Third Engineering Bureau 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 pupils have access to digital textbooks.

Pupils who live farther away from school can stay at a newly built dormitory, where thick quilts and medicine to ease 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.

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

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

When asked about the media attention, he 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2019, with the headline 'Donations bring warmth to China's Snowflake Boy'. Print Edition | Subscribe