During World War II over two million Nationalists were forced to flee to Taiwan to seek refuge. The Taiwanese government built temporary housing for the immigrants which became home to many people. Over the years due to economic changes people started to leave the temporary housing. A little over 10 years ago the only remaining resident was an 87-year-old man named Huang Yung-fu. The Taiwanese government was petitioning to tear down the abandoned village in order to build some modern apartments. Huang was offered money to pack up and move elsewhere but couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the only home he’d ever known in Taiwan. So he decided to do something simply else instead.
Huang decided to pick up a paintbrush and started to paint literally every square inch of the abandoned village.
It came as a shock to Huang when he heard the news 40 years after moving in that he’d have to leave. “When I came here, the village had 1,200 households and we’d all sit and talk like one big family,” Huang shared with BBC. “But then everyone moved away or passed away and I became lonely.” With nowhere to go and no-one to talk to, he turned to art to ease his suffering.
Huang was born in China and fought in two wars. After the Nationalist party lost, they were forced to flee. He and 2 million others ended up in Taiwan in makeshift villages. What was meant to be a temporary solution became home to many.
He first painted a small bird on his bungalow. That was followed by cats, people and different vibrant pieces of art. His story started to spread and a college student stumbled across the village. He snapped some photos and began a fundraising campaign to save the village from inevitable destruction.
The news quickly went viral and “Rainbow Grandpa” was internet famous. He captured the hearts of the nation and tourists started to venture to see the colorful village.
After the news went viral and the fundraising started to bring in donations the government decided to let Huang keep the only home he knows.
The village now regularly sees over 1 million tourists a year! “The government has promised me they will keep this house and this village,” “I was so happy and thankful.” said Huang.
The village once housed over 1,200 families but was going to be demolished when there was only 1 resident left after over 40 years.
A paintbrush and the determination of one person literally saved an entire village from destruction.
Huang Yung-fu shows just how powerful we can be as individuals. If we are passionate about what we believe in, one person actually can make a massive difference. In this case, he made the difference of saving an entire village. The village once housed 1,200 families and now sees over 1 million people a year. I can only imagine the smile on his face as each and every person comes to revel at his incredible work.