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Charitable electrician shines a bright light

By MA ZHENHUAN in Hangzhou and YU YIN in Ningbo, Zhejiang| China Daily| Updated: May 11, 2022 L M S


Qian Haijun (left) helps an elderly resident of Cixi, East China's Zhejiang province solve electrical problems. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

Electrician Qian Haijun has dedicated his life to helping others over the past 23 years making a difference in the lives of over 20,000 people.

An electrician for State Grid in the city of Cixi in Zhejiang province, Qian is well known among the some 60,000 residents in 26 communities, because despite being a paid electrician during the day, he carries on his work free of charge in the evenings to help out those in communities that need it the most: the elderly, the less well-off, and those with disabilities.

For his more than two decades of charitable work, Qian was honored with a national "Role Model of the Times" award on May 6 by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

Despite being endowed with such an honor, the sprightly 52-year-old has no intention of stopping what he's doing, knowing only too well that there are always people out there in need of assistance.

"Some elderly residents may only call me once a year, that's why I take every call seriously," said Qian.

The help that he gives is not all about fixing faulty wiring or installing solar panels, he also provides a number of services including facilitating transactions and mediating disputes.

And all these services, free of charge, are available door-to-door, with over 20 visits made per week, according to Qian.

This has made him the "go-to "man in the neighborhood whenever there is a problem, any time, night or day.

A considerate volunteer

From the beginning when Qian started volunteering at the community level in 1999, he had a particular focus on serving the elderly, especially those living alone. He made up 500 business cards and handed them out so that local residents would know who to call should a problem arise.

Over the course of the years, he's come to realize that the elderly need companionship more than anything else, and so Qian makes sure to check in on them to see how they're doing or just to have a chat.

Ying Jiuchang, an elderly Cixi resident, counts his blessings that he has met Qian.

In 2009, Qian helped Ying to repair some electrical wiring in his apartment. Since then, for over 10 years, Qian has visited the elderly man, who has no relatives, every month.

Ying was once hospitalized for 50 days, and Qian visited him on 48 of them.

"I would visit him no matter how late it was," he said. "And he was always waiting for me."

A public welfare project

For the longest time, Qian's employer State Grid was unaware of his efforts until letters of thanks from seniors started being sent in droves to the company.

Wanting to get involved with the charitable spirit of his work, in 2012 State Grid established the Qian Haijun Volunteer Service Center, named after the selfless employee, and began the Qianhu Wandeng-10,000 lights in 1,000 households-project in 2015 aimed at providing people with disabilities free electrical repair, maintenance and safety education.

The project has been promoted across Cixi and was financially supported by the central government in 2017 and 2018.

In 2017, having learned about the electrical problems in the residences of poor families in the Tibet autonomous region, Qian went to Tibet twice with his colleagues, taking portable solar energy equipment and multifunctional self-generating lights.

Tenzin Chophel, a resident of Rinpung county in Tibet, was one of the beneficiaries.

Tenzin Chophel used to worry about disconnecting from his family if his mobile phone ran out of battery while he was out grazing his cattle. But now he is reassured by taking the portable power.

Wangdu Tsering, another resident of Rinpung, lives far from the county town. Due to the remote location and lack of shopping, he needs to store a lot of food in his freezer.

According to him, his freezer often stopped working because of short circuits. But Qian's team solved the problem and he is not worried about it anymore.

Over the past six years, Qian's team has helped more than 60,000 people. The project was selected among the national model projects aiding the disabled and won gold at the China Charity Fair in 2021.