Snowflake Boy brings warmth to Yunnan's poor kids

Photos of Wang Fuman in class, shared by his principal, showed the icicles that had formed on his hair and eyebrows during his 4.5km walk in freezing temperatures to go to school.
Photos of Wang Fuman in class, shared by his principal, showed the icicles that had formed on his hair and eyebrows during his 4.5km walk in freezing temperatures to go to school. PHOTO: WEIBO

Story triggers public donation campaign to help all needy students in the province

BEIJING • Thousands of children living in poverty and cold in China's Yunnan province can look forward to a bit of warmth this winter, thanks to Snowflake Boy.

The Yunnan China Youth Development Foundation has launched a public donation campaign for all needy students in the province. It has promised to give each of them, including Snowflake Boy, 500 yuan (S$103) to help them stay warm in winter, said China Daily.

As of 4pm on Monday, the foundation had collected nearly 2.8 million yuan in public donations, according to its website.

Between last Wednesday and Friday, the foundation had organised three events to give out donations to thousands of left-behind children and children living in cold mountainous regions in nine areas. The local government has also urged the education department to ensure that heating is provided to all schools in the mountainous areas as soon as possible, China Daily reported.

Left-behind children are those whose parents had left home to work in the cities for a better living. These children, usually from the rural areas, are cared for by their grandparents or relatives.

Local authorities and various groups in Yunnan province have sprung into action following the story of Snowflake Boy, who braved frigid temperatures to reach his school in rural Zhaotong for the final examinations last week.

Eight-year-old Wang Fuman became an Internet sensation after a photograph of his ice-covered hair and eyebrows was posted online by his school principal, giving rise to the nickname Snowflake Boy. He had walked 4.5km in minus 9 deg C conditions for an hour.

 
 

Yesterday, China Daily reported that Fuman had done well in the exams. He scored 82 marks in Chinese and 90 in Mathematics, his favourite subject. Fuman also ranked third out of 17 pupils in his Primary 3 class in Zhuanshanbao Primary School.

In an interview with Beijing News last week, Fuman, who lives in a mud house in Ludian, said he hopes to do well enough in school to study in Beijing eventually.

"I have a dream of being a policeman when I grow up because there are many bad people in the world," he said, according to China Daily.

His father, Mr Wang Gangkui, 29, said the family had received donations of more than 10,000 yuan from all over the country as of Monday. People have also sent the boy and his 10-year-old sister, Fumei, winter clothes, shoes, books and notebooks, China Daily reported.

A construction firm in Zhaotong city has offered Mr Wang a job building houses, which pays up to 200 yuan a day. He has been doing similar temporary work in Kunming, earning about 2,500 yuan a month.

Mr Wang said the new job would allow him to go home every two to three days, according to Beijing News yesterday. His son had said in an earlier interview with social media site Pear Video that he missed his father, whom he had not seen for a few months. His mother left home about two years ago.

At the end of last year, 1.13 million people were living under the poverty line in Zhaotong, reported Yunnan Daily. There are 9,338 left-behind children in Ludian, accounting for 11.2 per cent of more than 80,000 students in total, according to the paper.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2018, with the headline 'Snowflake Boy brings warmth to Yunnan's poor kids'. Print Edition | Subscribe