She sees a days-old baby sick and dying near her home. The girl child has an infection because her umbilical hasn't been cut properly. She takes her home, consults a doctor and nurses it back to health.
She then decides to adopt her. Her family objects vehemently, for she already has adopted four children. But she wins the battle in the end.
That's Wang Yongxian, all of 58 years old. She lives in Lixi Town in Youyang Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Chongqing Municipality.
That day in 1995 was the beginning of her extraordinary journey. In just over a decade, she has become a household name in the municipality.
Wang's readiness to help the poor and needy, especially children, made the Chongqing Municipal Women's Federation honor her as "One of the Top 10 Outstanding Mothers in Chongqing" last year.
Federation chief Zhu Ren says the honors were for mothers who had overcome great difficulties to support their families or help others.
"Since that day in 1995, 'Mother Wang' has adopted seven orphans and donated more than 100,000 yuan ($12,821) to help 350 poor children complete their studies," Zhu says.
But Wang doesn't treat all her adopted children equally, for she loves Qiu Yongzhen the most. The reason: Qiu's legs are disabled.
Until five years ago, Qiu used to beg for a living, something Wang hated. So she bought Qiu a machine to repair shoes after adopting her. She even got someone to teach her how to operate the machine.
Qiu now not only earns her living with dignity, but also has saved some money in the bank.
"Mother Wang treats me like her own daughter. She taught me how to earn my bread with dignity, and even saved my life," Qiu says.
On August 21, 2004, a flash flood inundated Lixi. Realizing that Qiu was alone in her workshop in the market with nobody around to help her, Wang jumped into the raging floodwaters to carry her to safety.
"Mother Wang saved me in the nick of time otherwise I would have been swept away in flood," Qiu says.
Five of the seven children Wang has adopted can support themselves; two are in primary school.
There seems to be no end to Wang's philanthropic zeal. Two years ago, a child in Lixi was denied admission to the local primary school because he had a cleft lip. Wang paid for the surgery to rectify the boy's biological deformity and ensured that he was admitted to school.
Wang runs a big restaurant, and converted three of her rooms into a free dormitory for poor students from outside town 10 years ago.
"The kind soul treats jobless youths with equal love and care" says Zhu. She has created more than 60 jobs for them.
Wang is a good tailor, too, and has taught more than 180 youths the art of needlework, helping them to earn a living.
But why does she do all this? The last word comes from Wang: "I know the hardships a poor person has to go through because I was a poor young girl myself. Since I'm better off today, I consider it my duty to help the needy."
(China Daily January 18, 2007)