Translated and Adapted from Song Shifeng
Four years ago, a certain lady encountered an urgent situation. In order to resolve this, through social media, she requested for three hundred (300) volunteers to lend her one thousand (1000) Cedis each. She promised that through her monthly salary, she will repay five pe
ople each month, in the order in which the lenders sent the money, i.e. the first five people to send her the money, each will be paid back the following month and so on. According to her estimation, she would have repaid all 300 debtors within five years. Through social media, 300 people opted to help her, while she promised to honour her part of the agreement. She ended up repaying all the money two years earlier than she had earlier promised to. When she was repaying the moneys, there were many lenders who had already forgotten that they ever lent her money. Repaying debt owed is a natural situation, however, an expert in public welfare as well as social media commentators have stated that the trust, gratitude and keeping one’s promise was shown in this instance has made them feel the warmth of life.
One evening in June 2015, a 27 years old Salma was doing overtime in her work place when she received a call from her father, who was a truck driver, that he had knocked down a human being, and that the condition was really serious. Two months earlier, Salma’s mother suffered stroke and was admitted in the hospital. Her condition was so serious that she nearly passed on.
Encountering these two terrible situations in succession made Salma and her family to become unable to make ends meet. She simply couldn’t cope with the situation. Salma had not worked for too long. What is worst is she had just changed a new job only four days ago! So she had no personal savings left.
Salma later stated in a post that her father had all along been the pillar of the family. He could work for three consecutive days without sleep. He was always concerned about the girl’s financial and academic performance, sparing no effort at asking the girl if she had any problem is these areas. Salma has been working for the past five years, but hasn’t been able to pay back the parents in any form. When her mother was admitted in the ICU, she was so worried that she stayed at home for five consecutive days without going out.
Seeing her father being helpless in this circumstance and even considering leaving the house to dodge debtors, Salma swore to get these issues resolved as quickly as possible.
Salma has never borrowed money from anyone, so she didn’t know how to approach friends to lend her some money. She arrived at a decision without even consulting anyone. She said, “I took a pen and a paper and made a simple calculation. In the process, tears dropped onto the paper. I was later to find out that this tears-ridden paper was to touch a lot of people. At 23:08 on 14th June 2015, I spent fifteen minutes in writing an article making public my intention to borrow money from individuals”.
She posted this article on her Wechat status. The title of the article is “in the several months to come, I will be a grateful person”. In the article she explained that her father knocked someone with a truck while her mother has suffered stroke and so being hospitalised. Encountering this kind of issues successively, she had no option than to borrow money so address them.
She stated in the article; “I want to borrow 300000 Cedis. I need 300 individuals to lend me 1000 Cedis each. Any extra money after the 300000 Cedis has been reached will be rejected. Considering my current salary level and without having adverse effect on my live from today, I pledge to settle five people each month. This way, in five years, I will be able to settle everybody. In the process, if I get a salary increment, I will adjust the number of people I will settle each month. As to whom I am, I will not introduce my myself for now, those who trust me, a 27 years old lady, kindly help me, in the several months to come, I will be a grateful person”.
In one night, she was able to get all the 300 individuals she wanted. Society is fast changing. Five years is too long a time, how many people will trust her? A lot of people usually post request for assistance on their social media handles. Does someone really care to help them? Salma didn’t have answers to these questions.
Salma’s friends on Wechat are very few, they are mainly her personal friends. However, she has ever taken part in philanthropy, and also ever worked in a media firm, so she has a good number of media personnel and philanthropists as well as former classmates on her timeline. So her trust level was a bit high.
Through further sharing by her friends, within a short time, Salma was able to get the 300 individuals she needed. Amongst them, more than half of them have never met her before, with most of them sending her friend request as result of reading her article on other people’s timelines.
Salma’s Wechat jammed for a while, she was continually receiving friend requests from people and sending her money, messages of consolation and assuring her that all shall pass. In just one night, she was able to get all 300 individuals.
There were some lenders who told her not to repay the 1000 Cedis they lent her, while others requested that they send more than the 1000 Cedis. There were still others who requested that their turn for payment be moved further backwards, as they didn’t need the money immediately. After receiving money from an individual, she will thank you and assign you a serial number.
There were people who asked her for repayment. There were others too who completely forgot of this money.
On 7th July 2015, Salma settled the first five people. On 20th July 2018, Salma finished repaying300 people, two years earlier than she had planned.
Salma stated that among the 300 individuals who lent her the money, each was different, they all had different concerns. In these 3 years that she has been repaying the debt, a lot of interesting things happened.
There is one lender who is no more. Salma told journalist that “I have always sent her friend requests without receiving any reply. Later when I was repaying another friend’s money that I got to know that this person is no more”.
Someone enquired on the progress in repayment and wanted to know how he is. He indicated that “as far as I am concerned, so long as you continue refunding the monies, it makes me feel valuable than even paying me back”.
There is another friend too who was continuously monitoring Salma’s payment plan. On 23rd July 2016, this friend sent Salma a message, saying it’s been a while since they saw an update on the progress of payment. He said “you publicly raised the money. So you should let everybody know what is happening. I believe that no one amongst the lenders will pressurise you to refund the money. You should know that transparency is the most important thing after every donation or lending”.
There were still some who requested for repayment. But in each case, they did so rather indirectly.
Salma had a very deep impression about one of her friends from Shenzhen. She told journalist “there is a Shenzhen friend whose work is environmental protection, she occasionally comes to enquire, but she feared that that could put pressure on me. She thought I could misunderstand that to mean she is asking of her money. Until when I repaid her the money before she told me that she can now chat freely with me”. “Even though we have never known each other, a friend advised that I should not lend the money to her. But is still wanted to prove whether there is still trust in this world or not. Now I can testify that my trust was the right one”.
A lot of people have even forgotten, saying “I can remember at all”, “may be you have mistaken”, and so on. Only after they see the chat history that they are able to recollect the situation.
There is one friend who posted on her timeline after receiving repayment, saying “today’s event has really moved me. Today, I received an online payment of 1000 Cedis on Wechat from a sender I didn’t know. So, I messaged the person and asked her why she sent me this money. She sent me screenshots of our previous chats. I got to realise that it was a repayment of money I lent her two years ago. I have donated on several occasions, this is rather the first time I am receiving repayment for a donation. So I became curious about what the purpose of the donation was. The lady sent me a link to the appeal for funds that she posted two years ago. When I saw the marks of her tears on the paper that she wrote the calculations on as well as the pledges she made in the article,….. young lady, you have made me win, you have made me win the trust that I have forgotten already. You have made me win this profound and long-lasting touch. Even more, you have yourself a winner, a winner that has far exceeded your own imagination”.
Another friend said “someone sent me 1000 Cedis on Wechat and also wished me happy new year. thoughts came to my mind as to who else is teasing me? It was a real 1000 Cedis. But who is this generous? I had a second thought, could this be a bait? Later, she sent me our 3 years ago chat history. I have long forgotten that I have ever lent 1000 Cedis to anyone. When I read her article again, I was touched once more. Someone who is so richly attached and filial to her parents and action oriented, utilised her own honesty to help her family overcome challenges, and has even giving 300 people in this world a kind of warmth, this is really excellent!”.
There were some friends who unfriended her after lending her the money. She resent them friend requests to explain to them. There were others too who rejected the repayment, saying she can donate that money to those who need it. There were more than 10 other people who refused to accept her friend request no matter how she explained. Salma decided that these monies that she couldn’t get the lenders to pay back to them, she was going to donate it to charity.
After Salma finished the payment, she wrote an article in which she said “I have finished repaying the monies. I have completed the agreement between myself and the 300 unknown friends who agreed to lend me money 3 years ago. I have completed the repayment 2 years earlier than initially planned. A lot of people have completely forgotten, others have unfriended me, but I resent them friend request to explain to them. There were other who I could no longer add as friends, while there were still others who didn’t accept the repayment. I often recollect the event on that faithful summer night, I cant tell how lucky I was, within that short period of time, these many people helped me. The present me, has become pliable but tough, developed endurance, and an everlasting kind heart. At this moment today, I am very happy”.
Source: 93FM, Voice of Traffic, a Hangzhou, China based radio station