Veteran did not allow disabilities to stop him serving home

By LI YANG| (China Daily)| Updated : 2021-05-28

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Zhu Yanfu tends to an orchid at his home in Yiyuan county, Shandong province. QIU CHENGLIANG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Born in Zhangjiaquan village in Yiyuan county, Shandong province, Zhu Yanfu lost his hands, his left eye and both legs below the knee in a battle during the Korean War in the 1950s. He was just 17.

In a coma for 93 days, he was sent home and over the next few years he underwent 47 surgeries. Declining to stay in the army nursing home, Zhu returned to his impoverished mountain village in 1956.

Fitted with artificial limbs, he was elected secretary of the Zhangjiaquan Party branch in 1957. Under his leadership over the next 25 years, the villagers were gradually lifted out of poverty.

Zhu spent his pension buying books for the reading room he opened in 1957. He later founded an evening school, the first in the village, to eliminate illiteracy because he understood that the best way to end the poverty in which villagers had been mired for generations was by enriching their minds.

In the early 1960s, Zhu encouraged the villagers to dig three wells in the mountain and to create 7.3 hectares of terraced farmlands from previously barren slopes.

In 1978, Zhangjiaquan became the first village to have electricity in the township.

In his spare time, Zhu wrote two full-length autobiographical novels, Extreme Life and A Man without Regret, clamping the pen between both arms to write. His story was widely reported from the 1990s onward and Zhu became a national hero.