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After years of struggle, villager and village escape from poverty

Pub Date:2020-12-01 09:26 Source:China Daily

Chen Zeshen had been living in a rundown, brick-and-clay house for decades in Dawan village of Jinzhai county, East China's Anhui province.

Around 2003, Chen's only son died of disease, and his daughter-in-law abandoned the poverty-stricken family and left without even a goodbye according to the 71-year-old.

In keeping with an old superstition, Chen changed the direction of the house's front door, hoping the family's misfortune could be reversed.

But in 2007, his wife also passed away. Chen altered the door's direction again, but his struggles continued as he had an annual net income of less than 2,800 yuan ($425).

Jinzhai, once an important Red Army revolutionary base, is among the country's poorest counties. Dawan was one of the county's 71 poverty-stricken villages, as 242 of its 1,032 households, including the Chens', were registered for poverty alleviation measures in 2014.

In 2015, Yu Jing was sent to Dawan as the village's first Party secretary for poverty alleviation. She helped Chen acquire a loan of 8,000 yuan to build photovoltaic power panels in front of his house.

The electricity generated by the device helped the man earn about 3,000 yuan per year, with half of the income used to repay the loan.

Yu said she also persuaded Chen to raise goats with another bank loan. The interest for all the loans was paid by the government, she added.

On April 24, 2016, President Xi Jinping visited five homes in the village, including the Chens', and listened to ideas and suggestions from the villagers on poverty alleviation measures. He also sought their views on migration and resettlement.

In that year, the local government started to build a brand new community in the village, with dozens of two-floor houses, to resettle the poverty-stricken villagers.

In May 2017, Chen moved into his new 70-square-meter house. He got 90,000 yuan in compensation for giving up his old house to the local government for tourism development.

Chen said he paid 50,000 yuan for the new house, saving the remainder.

"We also increased plantation of high-quality tea leaves and traditional Chinese medicine herbs," Yu said.

Though the villagers now raise more than 1,600 goats and nearly 1,300 cows, Chen sold his goats in 2017 and got hired by a local tea production firm opening in the village.

The man learned how to fry tea leaves and now has a more stable income.

In 2019, tourists to Dawan village surpassed 300,000, and Chen's annual income surpassed more than 40,000 yuan for the first time.

The village was removed from the county's list of poverty-stricken villages in 2018, when 158 poverty-stricken households were relieved from poverty, according to the county government.

Similarly, the whole county was removed from the country's list of key counties for poverty alleviation in April.

"The Party and government's favorable policies have offered me a new door, one that leads me out of poverty," Chen said.


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