Dostoevsky once said that beauty will save the world. But he probably didn’t mean literally. However, that’s exactly what has happened for a small village in Taiwan — all due to the artwork of the man now known as the “Rainbow Grandpa.”
Huang Yung-fu is 97 years old. In the late 2000s, he was distressed to learn that the Taiwanese government was preparing to demolish his village to make room for an apartment complex. Huang was devastated.
There was a simple reason why the government wanted the village gone: Huang was the last living resident.
Everyone else had long since died or moved away. Although they offered him money to help him move to a new home, Huang couldn’t bear the idea of leaving.
The village had a very special meaning to him. As a young man, Huang fought in the Sino-Japanese War and World War II. Then he fought against the Communist government under Mao Zedong. Unfortunately, the Nationalists lost that war, forcing two million Chinese residents to flee for their lives to Taiwan.
Huang’s village was first a refugee camp for the incoming exiles from China.
It was never supposed to last more than a few short years. But eventually, it became a permanent home for Huang and 1,200 other families who had lost their homes in China.
“When I came here, the village had 1,200 households and we’d all sit and talk like one big family,” said Huang. “But then everyone moved away or passed away and I became lonely.”
Lonely and facing exile from the only home he’d ever known in Taiwan, Huang started to paint.
It started with decorating his own house, just a small painting of a bird.
Then, his paintings continued, sprawling over the empty buildings that had once housed his friends: birds, cats, and people, all in vibrant colors.
Huang’s labor of love may have continued unnoticed for the rest of time.
But in 2010, a university student passed through the village and started chatting with Huang. He was moved by the man’s story and decided to lend a hand. So, he took a few pictures, started a fundraising campaign, and petitioned the government to stop the demolition.
Once word spread, Huang became a nationwide hero.
He’s now been dubbed the “Rainbow Grandpa.” His artwork draws more than a million tourists every year who come to see the colorful houses.
“The government has promised me that they will keep this house and this village,” said Huang.
“I was so happy and thankful.”
Even better, Huang now has more than a million people to share his life with.
What was once a sad, empty village full of memories is now a thriving tourist destination. What’s more, everyone who comes brings a message of support for Huang. He remembers when the village housed 1,200 families who all felt like one big family. Now, his family has grown even more.
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Source: My Modern Met