"With the development of medical technology, HIV/AIDS is not as terrible as before. However, a 'virus' is still rampant among us, and that causes a kind of 'discrimination'. Someone has to face it, and lead us to wipe it out. Let's get to know one such school master."
That's what Bai Yansong, a popular TV host, said during an emotional award ceremony for the 2016 "Touching China" -- an annual program aired on China's state broadcaster, which praises ordinary Chinese people who made big contributions to the development of the country.
Zhou Xiaoping (right) accepts an award as one of the winners of 2016 “Touching China” on Feb 8, 2017. [Photo/cctv.com]
Zhou Xiaoping, headmaster of Red Ribbon School in Linfen, North China's Shanxi province, became one of the ten winners.
In 2004, Zhou, president of the Linfen No 3 People's Hospital, opened a "love classroom" in the hospital for children with HIV/AIDS who were denied access to public schools due to their disease.
Since then, the classroom has attracted more and more students with the disease who have lost one or both of their parents due to the virus.
Zhou Xiaoping, headmaster of the Red Ribbon School, plays with students with HIV/AIDS during a class break. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
On Sept 1, 2006, Zhou formally established the Red Ribbon School and in 2011, the school was included in the national education system.
Zhou Xiaoping, headmaster of the Red Ribbon School, teaches students with HIV/AIDS in the classroom. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
The Red Ribbon School is the sole educational institution for HIV-positive students in China, and it has altogether 33 students at present.
After the video about Zhou and his school finished, thunderous applause was heard at the ceremony. Many audience members at the ceremony were moved to tears.
"When I first started the school, I felt like a pretty great but busy person because I shouldered this social responsibility. Now, since I have become more intimate with these children, the feeling of greatness has weakened. They are just like my children," said Zhou at the ceremony.
Zhou Xiaoping, headmaster of the Red Ribbon School, poses with HIV-positive children. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
Chen Yulu, a committee member who recommended Zhou, said, "From treating the body of the patients to healing their hearts, he has devoted so much wisdom and courage."
Zhou Xiaoping, headmaster of the Red Ribbon School, celebrates Children’s Day with HIV-positive children. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]