A former poster girl for the Project Hope education charity, now a freshman at a noted university, has declined further aid from the fund that sponsored her primary and secondary education.
"As a college student, I can cover most of my expenses with earnings from part-time jobs," said Su Mingjuan, 19, in a letter to the China Youth Development Foundation, organizers of Project Hope, the country's most influential public welfare project.
The money from Project Hope -- largely donations -- should be spent on the more needy students, she said.
In 1991, Su, a first-grader at a primary school in a remote mountainous village of the eastern Anhui Province, impressed a photographer from Beijing-based China Youth Daily with her large, crystal-clear eyes pleading for knowledge.
The picture, entitled "I want to go to school," has since appeared nationwide in newspapers, magazines and billboards and has moved innumerable people to donate large sums to help needy children continue their schooling.
Su, the daughter of a poor farming couple, also became a beneficiary of Project Hope, which helped her complete primary and secondary school.
She had always been a hard-working student and was awarded the national "Star of Hope" in 1999 by the China Youth Development Foundation.
This year, Su was admitted to Anhui University as a finance major after achieving good grades in the national college entrance exam.
Since it was launched in 1989, Project Hope has received over 1.5 billion yuan (US$180 million) in donations from home and abroad. The fund has been used to build over 6,000 primary schools and keep 2 million children in rural areas at school.
(Xinhua News Agency November 8, 2002)