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Relocated villagers move on to a brighter future

China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-22 10:24
A residential community built for relocated people in Longquanguan township, Fuping county, Hebei province. [Photo/Xinhua]

SHIJIAZHUANG - An old water tank was the only keepsake that Tang Rongming brought with him when his family moved in July from their old adobe house deep in the mountains to their new two-story home.

Tang, 75, said his family had used the tank to store water for daily use when they lived in the Heilingou village in Fuping county, Hebei province. The village was in a remote backwater tucked away on Taihang Mountain.

"Heilingou village had only two water wells and faced severe water shortages," Tang said. "The water tank, which is even older than me, helped us through the most difficult times.

"Now that we've moved to our new home, we are keeping it as a reminder of the old days."

Heilingou village was once home to 208 people from 99 households, and over half of them lived under the national poverty line, due to the poor natural environment and lack of infrastructure.

But thanks to a poverty-relief relocation project launched by the local government in July, 74 of the households, including Tang's family, have resettled at a site in Longquanguan township, Fuping county, about 5 kilometers from Heilingou.

Each family was granted a house with flushing toilets, central heating, gas and tap water. The 25 households that chose to remain received compensation from the local government to resettle in other places.

Sun Shumei, Tang's wife, said when the family lived in Heilingou they barely made ends meet with annual income of about 3,000 yuan ($421) from growing potatoes and corn.

"Our old home was about 50 meters away from the public toilet in the village. It was really difficult to use the toilet during the freezing winters," Sun said. "I never imagined living in a big house like this."

Sun said she now buys food from stores near her community and her grandson studies at a nearby school. "And with natural gas, I no longer need to tolerate the smoke from the burning firewood," she added.

Heilingou Party chief Luo Siqing said before this year's relocation project no new house had been built in the poverty-stricken village for 40 years.

"Many young people left Heilingou to find jobs and to get married," Luo said.

However, with the resettlement project, some young people are considering going back and finding a job closer to their hometown.

Tang's son, who used to work in Baoding, Hebei, decided to return to his parents' new home in July along with his wife and two children. The family now earns about 30,000 yuan a year.

To fulfill the mission of eradicating absolute poverty by 2020, the government has been helping impoverished people move from mountainous regions to resettle in places with better natural environments and living conditions.

In Fuping county alone, a total of 41 poverty-relief relocation projects have been implemented in the past six years, with more than 50,000 people from more than 17,000 households relocated to their new homes.

The county's poverty head-count ratio has dropped to 6.93 percent, and the per capita disposable income of the county's rural residents has increased to 8,590 yuan, more than double the amount in 2012.

Like many of his neighbors, there is still a place in Tang's heart for his old home in Heilingou. He often gazes in the direction of his old home from the balcony of his new house.

"When I remember how hard life was in the past, it's then I can truly appreciate how sweet life is today," Tang said.


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