Pair bonds in helping others

Updated: 2016-01-08 07:56

By Huang Zhiling and Liu Mingtai in Changchun(China Daily)

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Pair bonds in helping others

Li Shuai takes care of an elderly man at the home caring center run by her family in Changchun, Jilin province. Zhang Yingnan / for China Daily

Through richer and poorer times, sacrifices define a relationship built on kindness and caring

Love blossomed for Li Shuai and Yang Kai in a special mix of caring, kindness and sacrifice.

Li, a 25-year-old woman from Changchun, Jilin province, tied the knot last year with Yang, 29, whose family had provided her with nine years of financial assistance for school.

The help started when Yang's family was rich, and it continued when they were poor. It was years before Li knew the extent of their sacrifice. When she found out, she was touched by their generosity. Yet the marriage, she stressed, was one of true love, not a repayment of Yang's family's kindness.

The couple's story started in 2003, when they were classmates at junior high school. "I was the monitor and he was in charge of sports in our class. We got along well, but never thought we would be a couple," Li said.

Li's parents had divorced and she had been living with her grandmother since she was aged 3. "We were very poor and I wanted to drop out of school in the second year of junior high school," Li said. "Yang Kai told my story to his mother Liu Shuqing and she decided to help me."

Yang's family was rich - they owned a restaurant and a hotel and a workshop for repairing cars - and they helped many students, she said.

"His mother paid my tuition fees at school and let him give me monthly expenses. When his mother visited him at school, she asked me to study hard and not be bothered with financial problems," Li said.

"Due to my low esteem as a poor student, I wasn't very hospitable to her," she added. "All I wanted was to study hard to make it so that I wouldn't need others' help one day."

Before the end of Li's second year of junior high school, his family's business faltered as the houses where they did business were dismantled.

Financial straits forced Yang to drop out of school. "Li Shuai knew nothing about it and thought I had transferred to another school," Yang said.

Yang's mother continued to pay Li's tuition fees, and sent money for her monthly expenses to her grandmother. After the national university examination in 2009, Li's grandmother asked her to visit Yang's mother in appreciation for her many years of support.

"It was the first time I had visited his home, which had moved from Changchun proper to the countryside in the aftermath of their financial straits," Li said. "It was only then I got to know they had lived a hard life for many years. I was moved that they let Yang Kai drop out and helped me finish my high school."

Li discovered that Liu ran a home caring for a dozen elderly, disabled residents, and that many lived there free of charge. She decided to pursue her undergraduate studies in Changchun so she could help them.

During her first year at Jilin Business and Technology College, she helped the family care for the residents in her spare time. Upon graduation two years ago, Li worked for a real estate company for a year. But because Liu was in poor health and the home had added more elderly residents with mental health issues, Li resigned in August to work there full time.

The home now has 52 residents, but only five pay for their keep. The family also receives government assistance and donations from public-spirited people. Six caregivers, including Liu, Yang and Li, attend to the residents. Li brings their meals and feeds them.

"Many of Li Shuai's college classmates do not understand why she works at the old people's home. But she replies it is meaningful to help those in need," said Liu, 49.

Li and Yang were married on Oct 2.

"As a matter of fact, we had been in love for years before the wedding," Yang said.

Li said she never expected to fall in love with Yang, who is a man of few words.

"He has touched my heart as a considerate man. Whenever I say something, he takes it seriously and does it, even if I have forgotten it," she said.