Chinese tourist spot bends rules to help struggling teen earn cash for college and ailing dad

An impoverished student in central China has taken to selling popsicles at a tourist hotspot to earn money for his college tuition and his family’s medical expenses. The boy needs to sell 7,000 popsicles during his two-month summer break to make ends meet, the local media reported on Monday.

The student, surnamed Zhao, got 520 points in this year’s college entrance exam, 21 points more than the minimum requirement to enrol in a university in Henan province, in central China, according to cztv.com, a video website run by Zhejiang Radio and Television Group.

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Zhao’s father is unemployed due to illness and needs 1,000 yuan (US$149) for medical expenses each month. There is also a younger brother who has just entered the third grade of elementary school.

Zhao’s mother is the family’s sole breadwinner and so Zhao decided to earn money to alleviate the family’s financial burden. He wants to have enough for his college tuition and his father’s medical bills.

Zhao said he came to Yuxi Gorge Scenic Spot in Henan province, two kilometres from home, earlier this month seeking work, but was told he could not get a job as he was under 18.

It was the scenic spot’s deputy manager, Xie Kang, who suggested Zhao sell popsicles in the tourist hotspot.

Xie Kang said that the tourist attraction normally banned peddlers, but he decided to make an exception for Zhao “after learning of his plight”. He wanted to help Zhao become self-reliant.

The office of the scenic spot purchased a peddler cart and popsicle storage box for Zhao.

Zhao said that because of previous press reports he had received 3,000 yuan in donations from the public. However, he appealed to people to stop giving him money.

“These donations put a lot of pressure on me. I hope to earn money by myself,” he said.

Zhao said he could sell over 100 popsicles each day and clear a profit of more than 100 yuan.

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