The Women Inspiration Series: Lou Xiaoying

This article was written by Zenith via UN Volunteers

Chapter 3 – Lou Xiaoying (China, Eastern Zhejiang)

In this series, we move back to Asia, and in specific, China, the country who has been branded by both positive and negative tags. Beyond the strong economic growth and huge potential as a country, many around the world has also raised concern regarding the huge inequality gap that has become impossible to ignore over the years. 

The inspirational woman of this series has come from probably the least expected background; a rubbish collector. Ms Lou Xiaoying has been hailed a hero by media and many people around the world, after several reports sprung up around the world 2 years back, carrying her story of how she and her late husband having saved more than 30 orphaned babies.

“…I realized if we had strength enough to collect garbage
how could we not recycle something
as important as human lives?” — Lou Xiaoying

Lou’s journey of saving orphaned children began back in 1972 when she was out collecting rubbish and there she found a baby girl lying amongst the junk on the street, abandoned. Lou brought her back home and raised her as her own. To Loy, watching the young girl grow and becoming stronger brought immense happiness and made her realize her real love of caring for children.

Lou and her husband kept 4 of the children they rescued, and the rest were passed onto friends and family members to start new lives. Her youngest son Zhang Qilin was rescued by Lou when she was 82. In Lou’s words, “Even though I was already getting old I could not simply ignore the baby and leave him to die in the trash. He looked so sweet and so needy. I had to take him home with me.”

Though Lou could not afford to send her eldest 3 children to school, she managed to send Zhang Juju and another daughter through junior high school. Zhang Juju, one of Lou’s adopted daughters, said that despite her mother’s extreme poverty, she has always tried to provide the best life possible for the children she rescued.

So often we’ve heard the excuse or reason that people give for not giving – “I am not rich enough”, or “When I get richer, I will give more”, or simply, “I am not free”. Lou, being a garbage collector is definitely not someone who will be ranked anywhere near the “well-to-do” category of society. But nothing has stopped her from saving these children off the fate of dying in dumps. She may not have been able to provide them with a life of riches, but has definitely gave them a second opportunity at living.

Despite being old, ill and poor, even at 82 years old, Lou still rescued Zhang Qilin off the streets. Despite the one-child-policy and social norms of gender inequality, neither has stopped Lou from doing what she finds right. In her life, she has become a hero not only of the children she rescued, but also as society hero to show that through human determination and love, nothing is impossible.

Lou’s story reminds me of Mother Teresa’s quote: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” All big change begins with a small step, and every step matters. 

Written by Zenith Chua, UN Volunteers

About Author

Zenith is in her senior year at Singapore Management University, majoring in strategic management and organizational behavior & human resources. Beyond school, she learns from various MOOCs (massive open online courses), so as to satisfy her seemingly ever growing desire for knowledge. Setting academics apart, she is an active UN Volunteer with various NGOs around the world, as well as a dragonboat paddler. 

Firmly driven by her life motto, "To Live, Not Just Exist", Zenith is always on the move for new ideas and opportunities to fulfill her not-so-humble ambition of changing the world to be a better place for all.


DAILY MAIL: 88 Year Old Saves Dumped Babies

HUFFINGTON POST: 30 Babies Saved by One Woman

ASIA STUDY: Lou Xiaoying and One Vile Woman - A Study in Contrasts





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