The Giving Driver

A pedicab
Lara Warman, via Flickr

Liz Waid and Joshua Leo tell the story of Bai Fang Li. He gave everything he had to support the education of poor children.

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Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I'm Joshua Leo. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3

"Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can" [John Wesley]

Voice 4

"They who give have all things; they who do not give have nothing." [Hindu Proverb]

Voice 5

"Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections. Some literally give their life's blood. But everyone has something to give." [Barbara Bush]

Voice 1

These are some famous sayings about giving. Many people know it is good to give. People often say that when a person gives, he also receives. But how many of us actually follow advice like this? How many of us live these ideas? We may think that we do not have enough to give. Or we may not know how or what to give.

Voice 2

When people think of extreme giving, they may think of people like Mother Teresa. This woman gave her whole life to helping people. But would you think of Mr. Bai Fang Li? Today's Spotlight is on Mr Bai. He changed the lives of many poor students in Tianjin.

Voice 1

Mr. Bai was a small old man from Tianjin in China. He earned money driving a pedicab. This is a form of local transport. A pedicab looks like a bicycle with a seating area behind it. People can sit in the covered area in back. Then a driver uses his legs to peddle, or move the bicycle. This work is very physically demanding.

Voice 2

Mr. Bai drove a pedicab for many years - even until he was an old man. But after 56 years he decided to retire. Mr. Bai was 74 years old. And he was ready to rest. But then, one incident changed his life.

Voice 1

Mr. Bai went back to his home to retire. He was prepared to say goodbye to his pedicab. But in his village, Mr. Bai noticed a group of children working in a field. He wondered why they were not in school. Finally, he discovered the reason. Were they badly behaved? No, they simply lacked money. They were not able to pay for school. Without money, the school could not pay teachers. Without teachers, the students could not learn. The school did not have resources to stay open for the children. After seeing these children, Mr. Bai was unable to sleep. He just kept thinking:

Voice 6

"Money is needed for students to go to school, money is needed for schools to maintain teachers and money is needed to rebuild old classrooms..."

Voice 2

Mr. Bai remembered when he was a child. He had left home because of poverty. But his home town was still poor. He wondered about the future of his town. He wondered about the future of these children who would not receive an education. How could things improve in his town if the children did not receive an education?

Voice 1

So Mr. Bai made a decision. He had received 5,000 RMB - about 750 US dollars - when he retired. He gave this money to aid in education of children. Then he returned to Tianjin to go back to work driving his pedicab.

Voice 2

Mr. Bai lived in a simple room by the Eastern Tianjin Railway Station. He spent very little money on his own needs. His clothes, shoes, and hat did not match. But Mr. Bai did not care. He said:

Voice 6

"The clothes that I wear are all picked up from the clothes people threw away. Look at my shoes, they are different. Even the socks inside are different! It is the same with my hat. It was also collected from dumpsites."

Voice 1

By wearing these old clothes, all the money Mr. Bai collected could go toward education. And even when his clothes got more and more holes, he still would not throw them away. In fact, he got some of his food this way too. Mr. Bai did not want to waste any food. When people tried to encourage him to stop doing this, he picked up a piece of bread. He said:

Voice 6

"This bread is the product of the farmers' hard work. People throw it away. I pick it up and eat it. Is this not a way to reduce waste?"

Voice 2

No one could change Mr. Bai. His daughter described her father this way:

Voice 7

"He suffers throughout his life, saving on food and drinks, fixing his torn trousers over and over again. When you throw away his old trousers and buy new ones for him, he does not want to wear them. But he also gets angry."

Voice 1

After Mr. Bai retired, he continued to drive a pedicab for 18 more years. Through this time he continued to give money to several schools and other education organizations. Finally, in the year 2000 Mr. Bai had to stop driving his pedicab. He fell and injured his arm. He continued to drive pedicab, but his arm became worse. Finally his daughter persuaded him to visit the hospital. After this, he was not permitted to move his arm, so he had to stop driving the pedicab. But he did not stop earning money to give away. Instead he looked after cars near the train station.

Voice 2

Mr. Bai donated his last small amount of money in 2001. He was over 90 years old. His body was weak, and he could not drive pedicabs anymore. Finally, when he gave away this last small amount of money he said:

Voice 6

"I cannot work anymore. I can no longer donate money to others."

Voice 1

His daughter could not believe it. That was the first time she had ever heard her father say something like that. Mr. Bai had given over 350,000 RMB to aid education to poor children. This is over 52,000 US dollars! He helped over 300 students to go to school. And what did he want for the students? Mr. Bai said:

Voice 6

"I only want them to study hard, get a good job, be a good person, and to give back to the country."

Voice 2

Mr. Bai did not just give so that the children could receive. He gave so that they could continue to give to others. Mr. Bai died in 2005. But the memory of his great giving still exists.

Voice 1

Have you seen or experienced giving like this? Tell us about it. Do you think you could ever give like Mr. Bai gave? Share your thoughts with us at Or leave a comment on the script page of this program.

Voice 2

The writer and producer of this program was Liz Waid. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes have been adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. Computer users can hear our programs, read our scripts, and see our word list on our website at This program is called "The Giving Driver."

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

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Do you think it is important to give to other people? What is the most important thing to give - time, money, or something else?


Avatar Spotlight
said on January 20, 2011

He is a good man :)

Avatar Spotlight
said on November 07, 2011

That’s great man!
“I only want them to study hard, get a good job, be a good person and to give back to the country” (that’s his said). It like that a sentence of parents for your children, to speak with simplicity, closer and warm.
That story remind me of my grandmother!
I’m going to be a good person like Mr.Bai. I have a little experience giving like him and I will try grown it! Give for good world in the further!
Nhu Truc

Avatar Spotlight
Doi hai linh
said on January 18, 2013

i think he is a great man. his job will stay in people’ memories over the world.

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 19, 2013

the hope world is in person as Mr. Bai

Long Pham's avatar
Long Pham
said on February 05, 2013

That’s great man.give all you can, you will receive all things have given. I read this article that help me to exprience about our life.

Many thanks the program sent us this precious message.

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 19, 2015

I greatly appreciate Mr. Bai ‘s kindness.Although he is a poor man,he always live for other people not caring himself.Rich people may not give and help poor children to get good education as him.He is a good example to us.Please always care,share and help other people.We give them a help,we’ll receive the love and respect from them!

Learning Everything's avatar
Learning Everything
said on February 17, 2015

He were a great person. GOD save his soul.

I remember a sentence such as giving someone a fishing-fob is better than giving them a fish.
If we giving a opportunity to chance their life as good education, that mean we help society to get more well human .

Education is very important, no study no successful.

Avatar Spotlight
said on February 19, 2015

Mr Bai is a good example of sacrifice. He recognize the importance of teaching and education. He do all things he can for his love for the children and his home town. We love beautiful good things. We wish to see beautiful good things. We are cared for, taught and educated. We try much to become good persons of family and community. We keep beautiful good things. We keep away from not good things. We do our workings for our lives. We do our workings for beautiful good things. There are good examples of beautiful good things. We sacrifice much for beautiful good things. We sacrifice more for beautiful good things.

Avatar Spotlight
said on February 21, 2015

He’s really good man.
I’ve never seen a man like Mr.Bai . I’m thinking about giving again. I think His idea changed my mind.
What is the most important thing to give?
I think It’ just that your own mind to give.
I want to be the man like Mr.Bai

Avatar Spotlight
said on February 22, 2015

I assume there are not many people willing to sacrifice themselves so absolutely as Mr. Bai did. He had given his own money to aid education to poor children so that to ensure the better life for them in future although he had not waited to receive anything back. Mr. Bai’s giving is rare, admirable, all of us should try to act as Mr. Bai did because there are still many people around us who need urgently our help. I was really moved listening to this amazing, touching story.

Avatar Spotlight
said on February 28, 2015

This is a moving story. Until now he is always a great man because he had made sacrifices too much for education of children. In Vietnam, there is a lot of good examples like this.
He said that “I only want them to study hard, get a good job, be a good person and to give back to the country”. I like it very much because that is a sentence of parent for their children with a boundless love.

Avatar Spotlight
said on March 25, 2015

I think , He is great man, If the world have people as Mr Bai, no children won’t be homeless, they will have a good life, good education. God bless him.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on September 11, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Sunday 11, September 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid and Joshua Leo:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!
Yes, I do. If someone has the condition to give something to other people, this is a great action.
Anything is important to give to someone or people, according to his, her, or their need.
Sometimes, someone only needs a comfortable word to reflect his or her mind to feel better from his or her trouble.
However, It is not necessary to be a psychologist or to have many resources to help someone. Finally, one smile from other person is enough to make us happy.

Yours regards,
Severino Ramos

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on September 16, 2016

Yes, I think that the given to the people is very important because the Lord of Jesus commands us for that in many phrases in Bible, for example Acts 20:35 when He said ;
“I have shown you all things, how that by so laboring ye ought to support the weak and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
And I think that the given of time, money or anything is important.
God bless you

Avatar Spotlight
Vy Nguyen
said on September 18, 2016

He is really a great man, with a warm heart and non-stop spririt of helping children. He always thought of a bright future, not only for children but also the country.
He reminds me other various stories about these man like that. I always admire those who have civic responsibilities and hope that this story will spread over the world day by day
Thank Sportlight for story :)

Avatar Spotlight
said on February 05, 2020

Very good text. Mr. Bai certainly was a good man. I think I can better help poor people paying my taxes correctly and working hard to produce more and more whealties to my country.