Fight­ing poverty with re­silience and hope

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA -

Af­ter spend­ing a month in Gu­fang, a vil­lage in Huichang county, Jiangxi prov­ince, I am now well ac­quainted with fish farm­ing, green­house gar­den­ing and rais­ing pigs — things I had no idea about be­fore.

I made friends with a num­ber of vil­lagers and formed a unique bond with a kind fam­ily who ac­com­mo­dated me for the whole month. Even their three dogs, which tried to bite me the first day I ap­peared in their owner’s yard, later fol­lowed me ev­ery­where like a small troop.

Life in ru­ral China has sud­denly be­come so much eas­ier for me to re­late to. And the un­prece­dented poverty al­le­vi­a­tion cam­paign tak­ing place in the vil­lage is no longer a vague con­cept, but real peo­ple mak­ing real ef­forts and car­ry­ing out a range of mea­sures to lead the coun­try into an in­creas­ingly pros­per­ous fu­ture.

What touched me most were the peo­ple, with their re­silience in the face of hard­ships and their strong will to strive for bet­ter lives through hard work.

I in­ter­viewed Zeng Chaozhi, a 26-year-old vil­lager. The cheer­ful young man smiles most of the time, so it’s hard to believe he has had ure­mia (high lev­els of urea in the blood) for six years and has dial­y­sis three times a week.

The ex­pen­sive med­i­cal treat­ment, which has cost 1 mil­lion yuan ($147,000) to date, plunged his fam­ily into dire poverty. In 2015, the fam­ily was reg­is­tered as liv­ing be­low the poverty line of 3,146 yuan per capita in­come a year and be­came eli­gi­ble to re­ceive fi­nan­cial sup­port from the gov­ern­ment.

Since last year, Zeng has been able to ac­cess a new health in­sur­ance pro­gram in­tro­duced by the county gov­ern­ment to cover the en­tire poverty-stricken pop­u­la­tion.

As a re­sult, his med­i­cal costs have been greatly re­duced, and his fam­ily has re­ceived 303,000 yuan as a par­tial re­im­burse­ment of the 319,270 yuan they spent on med­i­cal fees last year.

“We couldn’t have sur­vived with­out the gov­ern­ment’s help,” Zeng’s par­ents kept say­ing dur­ing our in­ter­view.

Chronic ill­ness has weak­ened Zeng’s body, but strength­ened his mind, mak­ing him much more ma­ture and philo­soph­i­cal than his peers. He hasn’t al­lowed his life to waste away, but has taken free­lance jobs that don’t re­quire too much labor, such as work­ing as an on­line pur­chas­ing agent. He is also try­ing to start writ­ing sto­ries again, some­thing he ex­celled at dur­ing his school days.

I will al­ways re­mem­ber the smile he gave when he said: “I con­sider my­self lucky. At least I still get to see the sun rise ev­ery morn­ing.”

An­other per­son who left a deep im­pres­sion on me was Zou Shi­rong, pres­i­dent of Gu­fang’s agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tive coun­cil. Zou was a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man run­ning a shoe fac­tory in Guangzhou, the cap­i­tal of Guang­dong prov­ince, be­fore he re­turned home last year at the re­quest

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Zuo Zhuo talks with a farmer in Huichang, Jiangxi prov­ince.

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