|The couple work in their flour mill. [jconline.cn]|
Couple Liu Pinggui and Li Jilin from Nanshidian Village in Jincheng, north China's Shanxi Province, were honored recently with the title of National Moral Model, becoming the first such individuals to claim this award from the city of Jincheng.
Their honesty and integrity in operating a flour mill company earned them the recognition and trust of local villagers.
In many ways, both Liu and her husband Li are typical rural citizens. In 2001, they withdrew savings they had accumulated over a dozen years and borrowed some money from friends to open the mill. It was the first of its kind in their village.
In the beginning, their business was slow because of financial strains. During the hardest times, their fellow villagers lent a helping hand by bringing their own wheat to the couple's mill. As the business took a turn for the better, Liu and her husband decided to return the gratitude to these warm-hearted villagers. Throughout the years they have gradually become better off through hard work.
By conducting their operations with effort and sincerity, their fellow villagers grew used to depositing their wheat at the mill directly after every harvest. Eighty kilograms of wheat could produce 50 kilograms of flour in return. Liu's family gained a meager income from the wheat bran or processing charges.
Residents in Nanshidian dubbed their mill the "four S's" grain store because it integrated various functions from storage, production, packaging to compensation.
Nonetheless, accidents may happen at any time. On August 19, 2010, an unprecedented torrential rain hit Nanshidian, causing a massive flood. Liu's low-lying mill inevitably fell victim to the deluge and more than 500,000 kilograms of flour were soaked in one-meter-deep water.
The couple cried in panic at the terrible scene. At that time, they thought of the account book that recorded the amount of wheat villagers had stored in their mill, so they ran inside, opened the filing cabinet and scrupulously laid out seven thick, damp account books.
After the flood, Liu's family separated the wet pages with tissues one by one and then dried them out. Thankfully, none of the statistics were lost.
Some 380,000 kilograms of wheat was spoiled in this catastrophic disaster, triggering a loss as high as 800,000 yuan (U.S $125,000). More than 200 residents from 18 villages suffered losses. Some tried to persuade them to suspend operations and close down, but Liu refused, saying "All our fellow villagers came to help us and no one forced us to compensate them for their losses because they believed us. So we mustn't harm their interests."
The couple, therefore, decided to compensate all the wheat to their villagers. They took out all their savings estimated at 250,000 yuan (U.S.$40,000) and borrowed 100,000 yuan (U.S.$16,000) to restart the machines, ensuring the villagers could get flour whenever they came over.
In order to remove any doubt that they might mix spoiled wheat with new, they took all the damp grains to the waste yard and destroyed them.
Now the flour mill has resumed a scene of bustle and liveliness. Liu and her husband continue to impress villagers with their honesty and integrity, gaining widespread recognition and compliments from the public.
(Source: China Women's News/Translated and edited by Women of China)