Sixteen people from six poverty-stricken families became the biggest test for Xie Wanju, First Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Zhadong Village Branch, in the second half of this year.
Zhadong, a remote village in Hechi, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, south China, is surrounded by mountains. It lacked roads and arable land, which led to its underdevelopment. The 16 were the last group of people to be lifted out of poverty with improved housing, clean drinking water and electricity by the end of September.
By the end of 2019, more than 200,000 CPC members had been appointed as first secretaries in all the registered poverty-stricken villages like Zhadong. Entrusted with targeted poverty alleviation and helping improve local governance in the villages where they are sent, these first secretaries are Party members or retirees from government departments, public institutions and state-owned enterprises. Xie is one of them.
Under his watch, the mountain village now is connected to road, clean water, electricity and the Internet. Several enterprises have been established in the village, providing jobs to the farmers and ensuring a secure income for them, helping them to cast off poverty. From an impoverished population of 314 by summer this year, the number was reduced to 16.
Xie persuaded banks to provide them loans, found a market for the agricultural and breeding enterprises that have come up in the village, and convinced the local government to make preferential policies to help them.
The good news is that the last 16 people have all reached the official standard for being taken off the poverty list by the end of 2020. They have sufficient food and clothing, access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing.
However, their story will not end there, nor will Xie's work. While awaiting the assessment, Xie, the Party branch and the villagers are planning how to develop the village further as part of the rural revitalization campaign. On the anvil are growing the animal breeding industry and foraying into tourism with rural bed-and-breakfast services.
For this village, like many other villages in China, getting out of poverty is a beginning to a better life.
(Print Edition Title: Men and Women With a Mission)