Nick, a 63-year-old retired police officer from Luxembourg, bent down to harvest forage grass expertly with a sickle in a sea of luxuriant grass in Zhadong village, Hechi city, south China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
The foreigner came to Guangxi during his tour round the world, and was attracted to Hechi city, the hometown of the legendary folk singer Liu Sanjie (The third sister of the Liu family) by a Chinese movie about her.
Fascinated by the magnificent scenery of the city, he has lived here for 11 years, and feels a particularly strong attachment to Zhadong village in Liusanjie township, Yizhou district of the city.
Since 2018, he has participated in the village’s poverty alleviation work for three consecutive years as a volunteer, and seen great changes in the village. He still visits Zhadong village every now and then to talk with villagers and help them with farm work.
“In the past, Zhadong village didn’t have access to roads, and local people lived a poor life. Their houses were built with adobe bricks and were sparsely furnished,” Nick recalled, explaining that Zhadong was once a poverty-stricken village, with its incidence of poverty reaching as high as 51 percent in 2014.
As a poverty alleviation volunteer at the village, Nick witnessed how it shook off poverty step by step with the concerted efforts of members and officials of the Communist Party of China (CPC), government officials and local people.
He has helped build roads for the village, install trellises and plant seedlings in orchards, and buy mowers and drills for villagers.
“Zhadong village is endowed with a sound ecological environment, which makes it a suitable place for the growth of crops. This is a gift from nature,” Nick told People’s Daily reporters after passing by farmlands and orchards with vibrant wampee, Musa basjoo, Japanese cinnamon and sugarcane.
Under the leadership of the CPC branch of the village, Zhadong has vigorously developed green industries, encouraged a number of entrepreneurial individuals to start businesses and supported them in helping and leading others out of poverty, and finally blazed a new development path that integrates the collective economy, enterprises, and once-impoverished families, according to Nick.
While renting out over 300 mu (20 hectares) of herbage fields, Lafan hamlet in Zhadong village has built a farm, enabling residents to secure another source of income by working at the farm besides the rent. Forage grass is the food of cattle, and the feces of cattle could be used to nourish the herbage fields; such a virtuous cycle drives the village’s collective economy to continuously grow.
During his interview with People’s Daily, Nick showed reporters new changes in the hamlets of Zhadong village in high spirits.
Nick has helped lay the foundations and erect scaffolding during the construction of the farm in Lafan hamlet. And he was delighted to find that Qin Muxiao, who works on the farm, now earns over 5,000 yuan ($785) per month.
When Mo Ziji, a resident in Shangdong hamlet of Zhadong village, started to build his new house, Nick helped carry cement and bricks. Now the construction of the bright new house with a floor area of 80 square meters has been finished.
Nick and officials of Zhadong village have secured financial support from government departments of Yizhou district for Zhadong village for the construction of its basketball court. Now the newly built basketball court is filled with the laughter of children.
Nick owns a copy of the English version of the book “Xi Jinping: The Governance of China”. He has read it for many times, and is impressed by a quote from Chinese President Xi Jinping in the book: “Leave to our future generations a sound working and living environment with a blue sky, green land and clear water”.
“It is crucial to avoid damage to the environment when pursuing development. China’s endeavors to promote ecological progress are remarkable,” Nick said.
Today, all hamlets in Zhadong village are connected to roads, and every household in the village has access to electricity, clean and safe drinking water, and the Internet. As local farm produce is transported to other regions more easily, villagers have earned more money, and many have built new houses.
“They have embraced a new life through hard work,” said Nick, who considers it a miracle that Zhadong has witnessed radical changes in merely four years. “The CPC’s practice in leading the Chinese people out of poverty toward prosperity is admirable.”
He hopes more skilled young people will return to Zhadong village and play a part in its construction, Nick said, adding that he will continue contributing to the development of the village.
“When I see villagers smile happily because their life gets better, I felt like a beam of sunlight shines right into my heart,” he said.