A teenage girl yesterday waved a tearful goodbye to something that she had been nurturing for the past 10 years - her 1.6-metre-long hair.
Zhu Jing, a fresher studying at the Hunan University of Technology, had her hair cut off and then sold it by auction to raise money for the education of children living in an impoverished mountain village in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Warm-hearted Zhu came to Beijing to participate in a national long hair competition and then cut off her hair just after she had won third prize.
Zhu said that she made the decision after hearing of the plight of the children in Hongyao Village, where the annual personal income is less than 200 yuan (US$25).
"I want to lend a hand to the children there who are forced to drop out of school due to poverty," said Zhu, whose thick, black hair reached her calves before the haircut.
Her hair was finally sold for 42,000 yuan (US$5,200) after heated bidding among some 100 people who came to watch the long hair competition. The charity auction winner was businesswoman Cai Meiyue, from Taiwan Province.
Zhu's efforts did a lot more than simply raise the cash however.
Almost everybody present made donations, including a senior trichologist who joined Zhu's charity haircut stunt on the spur of the moment.
The famous trichologist, Luo Shaoqi, who had not cut his hair for three years, shaved his off and raised 20,000 yuan (US$2,470), in the process.
The charity auction raised a total of more than 135,000 yuan (US$16,700) for children living in the village thousands of kilometers away from Beijing.
Zhu said: "I must do this to show my sincerity. Thank you everybody for helping the poor children."
She said that she originally wanted to sell her long hair to pay for her school fees because she did not want to burden her parents.
But when she heard about the long hair competition and talked to the organizer, the China Hairdressing & Beauty Association, she decided to help the children of Hongyao, who need money a lot more than her.
Zhu said that the 1.6-metre-long hair was her 10-year treasure and that she regarded it as part of her life.
"I really wanted to do something for the children in Hongyao Village. I hope (the sale of) my hair can bring hope to the children," said Zhu.
It is the first time that 18-year-old Zhu has been to Beijing. "Many people like me usually have a dream to visit the national capital. I hope that one day, the children of Hongyao can also make it out of the mountains and pay a visit to Beijing."
(China Daily August 15, 2005)