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Setbacks Fail to Discourage Samaritan

Pub Date:18-01-17 14:42 Source:China Daily

Li Ling poses in the Jingkai Inn in Heifei, Anhui province, which she has been running since 2007. [Photo by ZHU LIXIN/CHINA DAILY]

When Li Ling drives her scooter, she often starts thinking about the dozens of homeless people she has helped over the past 10 years.

"If I hesitate, car drivers sometimes sound their horns abruptly," said the 55-year-old woman from Hefei, Anhui province.

On the first floor of a shabby residential building in a narrow lane off Huaihe Road, a busy pedestrian street in downtown Hefei, is the Jingkai Inn, which Li has been running since 2007.

The small guesthouse has nine rooms, each costing less than 70 yuan ($10) a night. But what makes it unique is a whiteboard on the wall that says people in difficulty, such as homeless people and beggars, can stay for free.

Li, who comes from rural Changfeng county, came to the city 10 years ago after a female cousin suggested that running a guesthouse in a rented apartment would be easy and profitable.

Shortly after Li started the business, two girls ages 13 and 14 came to the hotel one night. One said she was an orphan and the other said she had been abandoned by her parents.

"They looked really pathetic," said Li, who took the girls in and looked after them until they were adults. "They had neither ID cards nor money to find somewhere else to live, so I had to help them."

So far, she has helped more than 30 people, most of whom were female.

But not all her good deeds have been met with the same kindness. Two years ago, a woman who stayed in the guesthouse for a few days told Li she had run out of money. The 28-year-old woman did not appear to have any relatives or friends and was pregnant, Li said.

Li let the woman stay for free and took care of her before sending her to the hospital where she gave birth to a baby boy. The woman stayed in the hotel for another six months until she disappeared one night, taking Li's computer and some other items.

With only a middle school education, Li is not in a strong financial position herself. She married her husband, a railway worker, before she came to the city, and her stepson, who is 33, unmarried and suffering from kidney failure, still lives with her.

Her savings from running the guesthouse were lost after she tried to help another woman, who stayed at her inn for nine years, to escape from loan sharks. In the process, Li amassed debts of more than 200,000 yuan. The woman she helped is now in prison.

Li said she "just cannot see someone in trouble and not lift a finger to help them".

Recent media reports about her have brought nationwide attention, with some people offering money, though not many.

"I have helped many people through the years. While I don't expect them to pay me back, it is a great consolation that I can receive help from other caring people," Li said, adding that she plans to continue running her business to help more people in the future.

Editor:Rita

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