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Her determination was such that, in 1932, she spent her life savings on a passage to Yuncheng, Shanxi Province, China
Aylward became a Chinese citizen in 1936 and was a revered figure among the people, taking in orphans and adopting several herself, intervening in a volatile prison riot and advocating prison reform, risking her life many times to help those in need
In 1938, the region was invaded by Japanese forces, and Aylward led over 100 orphans to safety over the mountains, despite being wounded herself
After 10 years in England she sought to return to China, but was denied re-entry by the Communist government and instead settled in Taiwan in 1958