Education is important, especially in urban cities today where paper qualifications are often the factor that determines whether you get a job, and how much you get paid for that job. Knowing that education plays a crucial part in their children’s future, many parents work hard and invest a large portion of their savings in their children’s education. Everybody works hard, but some just have it a little harder than the rest.
A couple in Hengyang, China, collect and recycle plastic materials for a living, handling over 180kg of plastics a day in order to see their sons through college. That’s more than 7,000 bottles each day!
According to Chinese news site Hua Xin Zai Xian‘s reports, Jiagu Zhu rented a factory unit 10 years ago in 2004. Together with his wife, Jianying Liu, he set up a plastic recycling factory and made the recycling of plastic materials their career. Since then, they’ve been working among overwhelming piles of plastic bottles and containers, going through an average of 7,000 plastic bottles every day. On busy days, they’ve managed over 10,000 bottles a day. That’s probably more bottles recycled in a day than an average person recycles in a lifetime!
Each year, they recycle up to 20 tonnes of plastic bottles, which breaks down to about 900,000 bottles. Other than plastic bottles, they also handle other recyclable plastic items, which make up another 20 tonnes of material. Collecting plastics might seem like a mundane job, but each process takes tremendous effort and time as they run the business entirely by themselves. The husband and wife team shares the workload; Mr. Zhu starts the day early, riding through streets and alleys to collect unwanted plastics on his tricycle while Madam Liu stays in the factory washing and separating the plastics for further processing.
When interviewed, exhaustion seeps through Madam Liu’s speech as she repeatedly mentions that it’s extremely tough and tiring. But as she speaks, she looks to her husband and a smile breaks across her face. “Having it tough is a fortune in disguise, as after the bitter times there will be sweet times. After putting in hard work, you’ll reap good results. We’re countrymen, there’s nothing we’re afraid of. We’re not afraid of leading a hard life, we’re not afraid of exhausting work, we can carve out a happy life with our bare hands,” says Mr. Zhu.
▼ Even though it’s hard work, the couple laugh and smile as they work towards their dream together.
For them, the hardest times have passed, as both their sons have graduated from college. With their bare hands, a little dream of wanting to give their children bright futures, and literally tonnes of hard work, they’ve even managed to send one of their sons to Germany to pursue a PhD.
In today’s demanding society, we often find ourselves going in circles like a dog chasing its own tail, pressed by never-ending bills and taxes to pay. Sometimes, we even start wondering if we’re ever going to progress in our lives at the rate we’re going. But just as Mr. Zhu and his wife have shown us, as long as we have a goal in life and we’re willing to work hard to achieve it, things will work out somehow. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to find a shortcut to fame or quick cash, but sometimes, going slow and steady wins the race!