Remembering ‘Daddy Song’: sudden death of Chinese teacher reveals 20 years of secret generosity which kept at least 30 poor students afloat

Remembering ‘Daddy Song’: sudden death of Chinese teacher reveals 20 years of secret generosity which kept at least 30 poor students afloat
  • Scores of students from across China attend funeral of generous school teacher who gave to the poor and told no-one about it
  • His giving secret only emerged after his sudden death, aged 48, when his family were sorting through his belongings

The sudden death of a 48-year-old Chinese secondary school teacher just days before the Lunar New Year holidays has unearthed a secret he had kept buried for almost 20 years.

The secret belonged to Song Wenwu who lived with his family in Huaiyuan County in China’s eastern province of Anhui, and it has touched millions online.

His colleague, Mr Zhou, has told Shanghai-based online media Pear Video that Song passed away after suffering a sudden cerebral haemorrhage: “He collapsed while going to the toilet and never got up.”

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Due to the fact that Song’s death coincided with the holiday, his students converged on his hometown for the funeral, in total more than 1,000 were in attendance.

From 1999 until he passed away, Song taught the Chinese language at a rural secondary school. This was the key to his closely held secret.

As so many of Song’s students came from the countryside, a significant number of them were poor.

If they were short of money they would go to his office and while embarrassed to say so, Song would immediately know by their body-language that they needed help.

At this point the big-hearted teacher would give them either cash or a meal voucher.

To Zhou’s knowledge, Song had been sponsoring students “secretly” since 2004.

The kind teacher did not make any of his generosity public because he did not want to stigmatise any of the students. Even his wife knew nothing about his largesse.

Song’s family were surprised at the number of students from all over China who attended his funeral.

While sorting through his belongings they realised that the quiet teacher had done so many good deeds in private.

The family discovered that Song would submit articles to magazines to earn extra money to fund his generosity towards his students.

He also supplemented these extra earnings with payments he received for overtime work in his day job.

So far and counting, it is reckoned that Song sponsored at least 30 students.

The educator has been dubbed by his students as their “Daddy Song”.

His giving nature is also reflected in the fact that Song had been donating blood since 2002. His legacy includes more than 10 blood donation certificates.

People close to him have pieced together more of the teacher’s life story.

He graduated in 2004 and enrolled in Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications and was once the subject of a magazine article written by a student from a low-income family who received a Lunar New Year package of meat from Song.

At least five million people have watched the video about him on Weibo.

One touched observer said: “Such a good teacher! But it’s a pity he left in such a hurry. I hope the children he helped will always remember their ‘Daddy Song’!”

One student wrote a handwritten card and tucked it into some flowers as a funeral offering.

The card read: “Mr Song, time is so short. So short that your life was suspended in 2023. I still can’t believe it. People often say things are impermanent, but you will live forever.”

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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