For the past decade, Zhao Yiliang and his wife Yang Mingqing have been donating money to support their hometown — a rural village in northeastern Guangdong Province — with building roads, repairing bridges and installing street lamps, bringing convenience and wealth to the villagers.
The couple, who own a company in Shenzhen called Aiyi Group, have donated over 25 million yuan (US$3.61 million) in total to Gulou Village in Meizhou City.
A grand ceremony was held Oct. 1 to celebrate the inauguration of a new road, Aiyi Boulevard, which connects three villages to the outside world, according to the Nanfang Daily.
The villages were having difficulties in economic development as the rugged mountain roads posed challenges in transporting agricultural products out for sale. But with the new road, the villagers can now sell their products more easily than before.
“Now we don’t have any difficulty transporting our agricultural products, and the villagers can take a walk at night since we have street lamps,” said Zhao Jiashou, a grass-root Party official of one of the villages along the new road.
Zhao Jiashou said that Aiyi Boulevard connects three villages and is 5 kilometers long with an average width of 4 meters. There are approximately 7,000 people in the three villages and their main crops are pomelos and bananas.
During the ceremony, Zhao Yiliang said it has been his dream that one day cars could pass by on a road in front of his village.
More than half of the people of the village have left to work in big cities. Zhao Yiliang is one of them.
At age 17, Zhao Yiliang dropped out of school as his family could not afford his education. He came to Shenzhen.
Zhao started out by selling dried chili peppers to Hong Kong and earned 750 yuan, which was his first pot of gold. He then purchased rice and pork from mainland cities and sold the products to Hong Kong.
With his hard work, Zhao accumulated wealth and started a company in 1995, which grew into Aiyi Group with its foot in several industries, such as smart technologies, logistics, education and real estate.
Education is one of the main areas in which Zhao invests as he believes that every child should receive an education despite their family conditions.
In Shenzhen, many children of migrant workers can’t go to public schools due to the household registration policy limit. Zhao built the first private school in Longgang District for the children of migrant workers.
It was not easy for Zhao to build the school several years ago. He used all of his savings to purchase the land for the school and even borrowed money to make it happen.
So far, Zhao has built four schools providing education for more than 7,000 students. For years, Zhao has insisted that the schools’ tuition fees be 20 percent less than other private schools.