Ma Quanhu is the mail carrier for Wangtuan Town in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and the model worker of the area. He appears on the streets and lanes at about 10 in the morning everyday, riding a dark green motorbike with letters and mail stuffed into his postal bag on the saddle.
There are 117 natural villages in Wangtuan Town, most of which are spread over mountain areas where transportation is inconvenient. After he finishes delivering in the town, Ma starts the mail delivery for the mountains.
He travels more than 60 kilometers every day and it sometimes takes more than four hours to deliver one or two pieces of mail. Even so, he says that his job has become more convenient since he was given a motorbike. Just two years ago, he delivered mail on bicycle, which was even more time consuming. At that time, he often worked until late at night.
During the snowstorms of early 2008, many postal departments suspended mail delivery in order to protect the safety of employees and vehicles. However, facing a backlog of mail, Ma was determined to deliver them despite the heavy snow. When his director said it was too dangerous, Ma assured him that he was familiar with the roads and would be very careful.
When the villagers saw Ma doggedly working in the bad weather, they were so touched that they invited him into their homes as an honored guest. Ma was very happy, even though by then he was so cold he could hardly speak properly.
As many of the area's young people have left to become migrant workers in bigger cities, Ma knows that a money order can sometimes become life-saving for the elderly people and young children left behind.
As a diligent worker, Ma makes it a point to remember the names of the village officials and educated villagers whenever he delivers mail to a new village, so that they can help him if he ever needs to deliver mail to recipients whose names and addresses are unclear.
Some families who often receive mail and money orders even entrust Ma with their identity cards and name seals so that he can bring the money directly to them. Although this means more work for Ma, he says it is worth it because their trust in him is invaluable.