Sunday, August 30, 2015

Rainbow Grandpa saves historic village

Huang Yung-fu, 93, was born in Hong Kong. He joined the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) army in 1946 to fight communist troops in mainland China during the civil war there. When KMT was defeated, many troops including Huang followed their leader, Chiang Kai-shek, to the island of Taiwan. Soldiers were housed in hundreds of military villages as Chiang regrouped, but when communists took control of the mainland, these temporary homes became permanent. Over the years, many villages were demolished as residents demanded better housing. Of the 1,200 original homes in Huang's village, only 11 remained, but he didn't want to leave, so instead, he started painting all the remaining homes. He painted night and day until nearby university students discovered his work and launched a campaign to save the village.

                                                                                                                         AFT Photo / Sam Yeh
Thanks to Huang, his village has become one of the area's leading attractions, drawing more than a million visitors annually. Tourists of all ages take selfies in front of the murals, including 19-year-old Hsiao Chi, a student from Taipei. "These graphics are amazing," he said. "They should be preserved." And finally the government agrees. "The government has promised me they will keep my house and this village," said Huang, now known as Rainbow Grandpa. "I am so happy and thankful."

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