Let 'Young Flowers' Blossom in Village

ByXie Lin July 23, 2022

Let 'Young Flowers' Blossom in Village


Yang Ning is a native of Jiangmen, a village in Rongshui Miao Autonomous County, Liuzhou, in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. In 2010, after she graduated from Guangxi University, in Nanning, capital of Guangxi, with a bachelor's degree in business administration, she returned to Jiangmen to work as a village cadre. Yang is now director of the village committee and secretary of the village general Party (Communist Party of China) branch. She has devoted herself to the development of her hometown, and she has helped "young flowers" blossom in the village.

Returning, with Ambition

"I left home to study in the county when I was 12, and I returned home after I graduated from university. Compared with the outside world, life in my hometown is simpler, and more real. I know better than anyone else that my hometown needs young people who can lead villagers to live better lives," Yang says.

There are nearly 500 households in Jiangmen, in Anchui Township. The villagers had lived in poverty for decades. In 2010, the villagers' per capita income was about 1,000 yuan (US $153).

"I have experienced the fast development in some cities. After I returned to my hometown, I was heartbroken when I saw the poverty and its backwardness. At that time, I made up my mind to change the situation and help villagers escape poverty and live better lives," Yang recalls.

Yang quickly realized working in the village was different from what she had imagined. Sometimes, there were so many things to do that she didn't know where to start. But she understood there were no shortcuts, and she had to be patient and keep learning, through practice.

Let 'Young Flowers' Blossom in Village


One day, Yang helped some illiterate elderly villagers fill in application forms, so they could apply for basic living allowances offered by the Chinese Government. The next day, when she arrived at the office, after she had finished her work in the village, Yang saw an elderly villager sitting in front of the office. He gave Yang some oranges, to thank her for helping him complete the forms.

"I just did a little thing for him, but it really helped him and his family. I felt my work was meaningful. The villagers are kind and grateful, and I want to help them," Yang says.

Yang has done her best to help the villagers solve their problems. Pan Jianqiang, an elderly and physically challenged villager, was bedridden. Yang regularly took medicine to him, and she helped him obtain financial aid from Tencent Charity Foundation.

Yang once supported a girl, from an impoverished family, for six years so the girl could finish school. Now, the girl and her family live in the county, and their lives are continuing to improve.

To help more children in the village, Yang has established a home for children whose parents work in cities. She uses her free time to accompany and play games with the children. In 2013, Yang organized a summer camp, and she invited university students to accompany the children during their summer vacation. "Yang always carries out her work in an orderly way," says Jia Lixian, deputy director of the village committee and president of Jiangmen women's federation.

Let 'Young Flowers' Blossom in Village


Finding a way to lift her hometown out of poverty was one of Yang's biggest concerns. "We should take full advantage of Jiangmen's natural resources, and we should develop an alpine ecological planting industry," Yang says.

As Anchui Township has an abundance of bamboo resources, Jiangmen is well positioned to develop a primary bamboo processing industry. In 2021, after conducting initial market research, Yang was convinced selling primary-processed bamboo materials directly to clients in Guangdong and Guangxi would help villagers increase their incomes. So, she contacted prospective clients, and she helped villagers sign sales agreements with those individuals. As a result, the villagers who grew and processed bamboo increased their annual incomes.

In 2014, many of the villagers began planting peppers, but the heavy rainfall that year caused the peppers to become rotten. The next year, Yang led more than 90 households in planting lobed kudzuvine root. "It is not easy to lead villagers to develop industries and fight poverty," Yang recalls.

She also encouraged villagers to adopt traditional Miao farming methods to plant alpine rice, in an environmentally friendly way, and to stop using pesticides and fertilizers. Some of the villagers doubted they would have a harvest if they used the traditional farming methods. To dispel their doubts, Yang and several villagers took the lead in planting a test field. In the fall, they had a good harvest, and they sold the rice at a good price. Hence, more villagers began to follow Yang's way of planting rice, fruits and vegetables.

Yang has also established a poverty-alleviation workshop, to process agricultural products in the village, and the products have been selling well.

Yang's sincerity and success have won the villagers' trust. Yang Meiyang, who is deaf, says through sign language, "I am willing to do what Yang tells me to do."

Deep Love for Hometown

In 2016, Yang finished her second term as a village cadre. "Yang is nice and capable, and we all like her. We hope she can stay in the village. But we understand she will have greater development in a big city," one villager has said. One of her former classmates also tried to persuade her to work in a city.

However, Yang has chosen to stay, and to continue her work in Jiangmen. "I feel lucky to live in the new era, and I feel honored to be able to participate in the great cause of poverty alleviation. You have no idea how proud I am that I made the right choice, and did the right thing. Young people, who have ideas and capabilities, are needed in rural areas," Yang says.

Yang has never stopped exploring ways of increasing the villagers' incomes. Trusted by the villagers, Yang was elected director of the village committee in 2017. She was the first woman university graduate in the county to become a village committee director. She was also selected a deputy to the people's congress of the township the same year.

Let 'Young Flowers' Blossom in Village


Watermelons grown in the village are sweet, and they sell well in the market. Yang helped the women villagers establish a watermelon cooperative. In August 2018, Rongshui Women's Federation organized a watermelon festival in Jiangmen. "Our watermelons are of good quality, and are well-received in the market. Yang is capable ... we feel proud and elated," one woman said during the festival.

In 2020, Yang submitted a proposal to repair the main road in the village. In January 2021, the road had been repaired, with the support of the local government.

"In the past, we had to carry fertilizer on our backs or shoulders to the mountains, where we grow the watermelon. Now, we can drive, and easily transport the fertilizer and watermelon back and forth. It is easier and more convenient than before," Zhang Haihui, a villager, says. Some 237 solar road lamps were also installed in the village that year.

Let 'Young Flowers' Blossom in Village


"In 2020, we encouraged some villagers to grow bamboo fungus, and they had a harvest. The next year, more villagers decided to join us, and we expanded the scale of growing bamboo fungus," Yang says.

Says Dong Yanfang, a villager: "With the encouragement of Yang, I grew bamboo fungus in 2020, and I earned thousands of yuan that year. I began growing more bamboo fungi last year."

Let 'Young Flowers' Blossom in Village


Building a Beautiful Village

Mushrooms, edible fungus, bamboo shoots and gyrophora are precious specialty products grown in the Miao village. In the past, many of the villagers have been reluctant to plant these items because they have been difficult to sell.

In 2016, Yang decided to sell agricultural and sideline products, and to promote the Miao culture and delicacies through online platforms.

Yang and six village cadres established an agricultural products e-commerce service center, and they opened a WeChat (a messaging and social-media app) account so they could conduct online business. They also began online sales of packaged food. Since then, many young villagers have returned to Jiangmen, from cities, to work at the service center.

In 2020, thanks to the efforts of Yang and the villagers, Jiangmen was lifted out of poverty. Now, various industries are operating in the village, and the village's infrastructure, environment and people's living conditions are greatly improved.

"What brings a good life to villagers is the policies of the Party, and the cadres of the Party," some villagers have said. In November 2020, Yang was elected secretary of the village's general Party branch.

Yang has received many titles and awards for her contributions to rural development in China. Some of those honors include: Most Beautiful Women Striver, National March 8th Red-Banner Pacesetter, National Poverty Alleviation Award, and China Youth May 4th Medal. She is also a delegate to the 12th National Women's Congress.

"Serving the villagers is my goal, and it embodies the value of my life. I hope more young people will contribute their youth and strength to rural revitalization," Yang says.

Let 'Young Flowers' Blossom in Village


Photos Supplied by Qin Mei, Qin Meichun, Jiang Li, Guangxi Women's Federation, Liuzhou Women's Federation, Huang Wei, He Qin and Interviewee

(Women of China English Monthly June 2022 issue)


Please understand that womenofchina.cn,a non-profit, information-communication website, cannot reach every writer before using articles and images. For copyright issues, please contact us by emailing: website@womenofchina.cn. The articles published and opinions expressed on this website represent the opinions of writers and are not necessarily shared by womenofchina.cn.