Support Maolin's parents

Target reached
from €45,000 (164%)

Read this text in Chinese (pdf)

During a terrible fire in the early morning of 17 January our dear friend and colleague, PhD student Maolin Zhang, lost his life. His journey to unravel the mysteries of the Universe has come to a shocking and unexpected end. We are grief-stricken, his loss leaves a deep hole at the heart of our community.

Long-term impact

The loss of Maolin has an unfathomable impact on his parents, farmers in rural China. In addition to their intense grief, a larger issue hangs on the horizon. As their only child, Maolin planned to take care of his parents later on in life so they would continue to live with dignity when they are no longer able to work on the farm. With his sad passing away, his parents – in addition to their inconsolable loss – are now facing an uncertain future where poverty and dependence on charity loom.

Your help is very much needed

We cannot let this happen! We, friends, colleagues and fellow students from Leiden University and the broader community, are therefore joining forces and are reaching out to you, to help.

With this crowdfunding initiative in honour of Maolin, we want to establish a secure future for his parents and we need all the help we can possibly get. Based on the local cost of living, our goal is to collect € 45,000 (¥ 350,000). This will already be sufficient to financially relieve Mr. and Mrs. Zhang for about 10 years when they are no longer able to work on the farm. Please help us reach our goal, by donating and sharing our message. All contributions together, whether big or small, will help to make a difference.

Please feel free to donate any amount that you feel is appropriate. Many thanks.


Friends, colleagues and fellow students of:
Leiden Observatory, Faculty of Science, and Leiden University
Tsinghua Alumni, The Netherlands
Leiden Science China community (LSC)
Association of Chinese Students and Scholars in the Netherlands-Leiden (ACSSNL)

More about Maolin’s background

Local hero
Maolin grew up in the countryside near Yangtang Village, Shuangqiao Town, Qidong County, Hunan Province, China. Coming from a humble background, he worked extremely hard to gain admission to Tsinghua University, one of the most prestigious universities in China. From there he successfully obtained a Master’s degree in Engineering in 2016. In 2017, Maolin was awarded a joint scholarship of the China Scholarship Council (CSC) and Leiden University to pursue a PhD degree in astronomy. Due to his exceptional achievements, he was considered a hero in the local community in China that he grew up in and where his parents still live.

More about Maolin’s hometown
Shuangqiao is a small town in the core of the Hengshao Arid Corridor area and at the edge of the Hengyang Basin. It is a poor region with drought and serious desertification. A large fraction of people in this region have an annual income of less than € 4500. Most people, like Maolin’s parents, work in agriculture. As a young boy, during free time from school, he helped a lot in the fields together with his cousins. Although Shuangqiao is still economically underdeveloped, culture and education are highly valued. Maolin was able to go to Tsinghua University with financial support from his parents and the whole village.

Read Maolin’s In Memoriam

About this initiative

The raised contribution will go to Foundation Praesidium Libertatis. Leiden University established the Praesidium Libertatis Fund, named after the university motto ‘Bastion of Freedom’, for its fundraising activities. Praesidium Libertatis Fund has been acknowledged as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO/ANBI) meaning it does not pay Dutch gift tax and inheritance tax. Your contribution will be donated in full to the project you support. Such contributions can be tax deductible for the donor.


If you have any questions about this crowdfunding initiative, please contact the Faculty of Science's communications department via