‘Balloon mom’ Peng Xia: Tiny woman with big heart of benevolence

(Source: People’s Daily Online)

“Are you the ‘balloon mom’ who donates money to poor college students? You are such a wonderful person. I want to buy some balloons from you.”

On the morning of Aug. 30, a Chinese woman who sells balloons in Hefei, east China’s Anhui Province, kept hearing these words over and over again, and ended up selling all of her 50 balloons within an hour.

(Photo/Gao Bo)

“I brought only 30 balloons per day in recent days, since it has been hot out. And I couldn’t sell them all until around 11 a.m. Today, those people who read the news reports about me bought all my 50 balloons in an hour,” said Peng Xia, the balloon seller. She didn’t expect that so many people had read stories about her peddling the balloons.

Over the past several years, Peng, who is only 1.1 meters tall due to a congenital disability, has made donations to more than 30 students. She is affectionately referred to as the “balloon mom” by netizens in China.

“I’m not the one who needs help”

Though she is tiny, and her husband also suffers from a disability due to cerebral palsy, Peng declines extra payments from people who buy balloons from her.

“I’m not the one who needs help,” she said.

(Photo/Gao Bo)

“A young lady wanted to pay me more money at first. After I declined the request, she bought six balloons, saying that she hopes to help me and those poor students in this way,” Peng said, adding that she declined similar requests from many similarly warm-hearted customers within that one hour.

“I’m very grateful for their support toward me, but I hope that they can offer the help to the students who really need it,” she said.

She rides her tricycle to buy balloons every night, and then gets up early in the next morning to sell them. She and her husband earn 2,000 yuan ($289.86) a month, and they receive a disability pension of more than 1,000 yuan from the government, which brings their total monthly income to about 3,000 yuan. The family’s monthly living expenses are around 2,000 yuan, and the rest of their income is basically all donated to poor students.

“Our life is simple and happy. My parents-in-law left this house to us. And we are not picky about food or clothing,” she said.

(Photo/Gao Bo)

A receiver and giver of love

“We have received enough help,” Peng said, “community workers often visit us to ask if we need any help. Since I buy balloons at night, the staff members of the property management company serving our community specially keep the gate unlocked for my convenience. When I sell balloons, I often meet kindhearted people who think it is not easy for me to make a living and ask if I need help.”

Feeling grateful for the help and loving care they have received, Peng and her husband decided to give back to society within their individual powers.

(Photo/Gao Bo)

“In 2017, me and my husband saw on TV for the first time that a poor student was seeking help for tuition, and we decided to help him,” Peng said. They later donated 500 yuan to the student.

Since making that initial 500-yuan donation, Peng has embarked on a journey of constant charity, making donations to a great many and becoming the “balloon mom” that everyone admires. Over the past few years, she has accumulated more than 30 donation certificates, while the amount of her donations has gradually increased from 500 yuan to 1,000 yuan, and even as much as 3,000 yuan.

Besides the donation certificates, Peng has also received a letter of thanks from a student she has helped. It reads, “Dear balloon sister, how are you? This might be a hasty letter, but I want to say, good things will definitely happen to selfless people like you.”

Peng has never wanted to interfere in the lives of the students she has helped. “What I have done is very simple. And I’ve done it because I want those children to go to school, and I hope more people can help poor students,” she said.

(Photo/Gao Bo)

“We are happy enough”

Although it’s physically challenging for her to do household chores, Peng always keeps her home clean and bright.

There is an electronic piano on the balcony of her home, which is the only “luxury” of the family, according to Peng.

Since the time she learned how to play electric piano and sing at a training session for people with disabilities, music has become Peng’s biggest hobby. In an effort to support Peng in the pursuit of her hobby, her husband led the whole family to save money for several months, and finally bought the “big luxury” for her.

“We should live every day to the fullest. Staying optimistic is my biggest characteristic. Apart from tribulations, we have many other things in life, like playing the piano, singing as well as helping students. Because of these good things, we are happy enough,” Peng said.

(Photo/Gao Bo)

Peng’s goodness and optimistic view on life have had a strong influence on her family and people who know her. Her son, who is in college, does part-time work while working hard with his studies.

“When he got a scholarship, he immediately called me and said to me, ‘Mom, you take my scholarship money and use it to help those students in need’,” Peng recalled.

“I try to donate money to several children every year, basically 3,000 yuan a year to each college student and 500 yuan to each elementary student,” she said, adding that she will continue in this philanthropic endeavor.

“We have old-age insurance and disability pension from the government, which will probably guarantee our basic living needs in the future,” she said.

(Photo/Gao Bo)

(Photo/Gao Bo)