Anhui Television has uncovered the story of Tao Xing (陶星), a 16-year-old student from Yueyang, Hunan Province, who has recently come under the spotlight for his loving care of his mother.
It all started when the owner of the store next to Tao Xing’s school told his teacher-in-charge that the boy was buying sanitary napkins on a monthly basis. She had thought that the boy was “up to no good” and told him that he should spend his time studying instead. The teacher Zhang Guobin (张国兵) would not believe what the store owner had to say because Tao Xing had always been a top student, but one day he finally saw with his own eyes that Tao Xing was buying sanitary napkins from the store. When he confronted his student, Tao would say nothing at all. In the process, the teacher discovered that Tao’s father had died several years back and he was only left with a mother and a sister.
To unravel the mystery, Zhang Guobin decided to follow his student home one day. When he finally got to Tao Xing’s dingy apartment, what he saw shocked him beyond words – Tao was washing the feet of a middle-aged deaf and intellectually disabled woman. When he looked up to find his teacher standing at the door, the embarrassed Tao could only manage to introduce his mother, explaining that she can’t talk nor hear and has the intellect of a three year old.
Tao’s family receives RMB4,000 in state welfare each year, but that money is barely enough to cover their living expenses and school fees. In 2005, Tao was top of his class, and to ensure that he could go on studying, Tao’s sister decided to give up her place in university and start worrking in another city. It was then that the whole burden of taking care of mom started to fall on Tao’s shoulders.
Everyday after school, Tao would rush back from school to prepare meals for his mom. He would also have to brush her teeth, wash her feet, bathe her, put on her clothes, help her with her sanitary pads, etc. As it turned out, Tao’s mother was also epileptic, and each time her fits came on, Tao would have to put his hand in her mouth in case she bit off her own tongue. In winter, he would sleep in the same bed with mom, but on the opposite end to keep her feet warm. Tao’s mom was also incontinent, which meant that he had to wash lots of clothes everyday. To top it all off, mom would always explode in uncontrolled fits of anger, refusing to eat, or roll on the floor crying.
Early this year, when Tao was conspicuously absent from school, Teacher Zhang paid him another visit and discovered that he was unable to continue school for lack of money. It was then that Zhang decided he could no longer help keep Zhang’s little secret and started a campaign in school which saw students raising over RMB2,000 in a single day for Tao Xing.
Tao Xing’s story has now been retold in numerous media. He has been held up as China’s “post-90’s model for filial piety” (一个90后的当代中国孝子), and has also attracted the attention of numerous party officials who have since visited him and written about him in the papers. Already, the Communist Youth League’s Yueyang Committee has started to crank up its propaganda machine by seeking to elevate Tao Xing into some sort of a modern Lei Feng with their “Learn from Comrade Tao Xing“ campaign which includes the four following points:
1. To learn from Tao Xing, the ordinary student who understood what it means to repay your benefactor’s kindness, respect for the elderly, love for parents, as well as gratefulness to teachers for their instruction and fellow friends for their help.
2. To learn from Tao Xing, the ordinary student who displayed remarkable optimism, a willingness to fight to the end, the diligence to equip himself to learn scientific and cultural knowledge, so that he can be a man with his feet on the ground, earnestly seeking to repay the motherland and service the community with specific actions.
3. To learn from Tao Xing, the ordinary student who showed what it means to be kind to and to help the people around him, and in so displaying the traditional virtues of the Chinese race, help build a harmonious society and a better future for all.
4. To learn from Tao Xing, the ordinary student who understood what it means to be independent, to fight, to be firm in your beliefs, and to obstinately guard his character and virtues, to repay the nation, to fight to win, to be kind-hearted and to always aspire to progress.