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Family moves from hut to new apartment

By SUN RUISHENG in Taiyuan and WANG KEJU in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-17 07:37
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On Oct 4, during Mid-Autumn Festival, Liu Fuyou cooked his family reunion dinner for the first time using a gas stove and tap water in his new apartment.

Liu spent most of his life in a shabby mud-brick hut in Zhaojiawa, a remote mountainous village in Kelan county, Shanxi province. But the 71-year-old farmer and his family, along with five other poverty-stricken families, moved to new apartments on Sept 22.

Their dream of leading a new life finally came true as the whole village relocated to Guanghuiyuan New Village, a resettlement site in the county.

"The old houses are over. So are those bitter days," he said.

Deep in the Lyuliang Mountains, poverty was rife in the village because of the rough terrain, infertile land, labor shortages and a lack of resources.

There are nine people in Liu's family and they had 6.7 hectares of farmland to work. From plowing to harvest, everything had to be done by hand.

"I carried 50 kilograms of potatoes on my back, which blistered my feet after a few days," he said, likening farming to war, in which they fought against rain in summer and frost and snow in autumn. Extensive cultivation on slopes, however, yielded only poor harvests.

"Our family took in less than 7,000 yuan ($1,060) last year. We earned about 500 yuan growing grain. The rest came from government subsidies," said Liu, who lives with his 92-year-old mother. His five children left the village when they married.

On June 21, President Xi Jinping visited the village despite the backbreaking road from the provincial capital, where he approved the local government's idea of improving the villagers' livelihoods through relocation after examining all the details about the village and its resettlement.

"Are you still able to do farm work? Your children work away from the village. Do they help you out? Do you want to move out?" the president asked Liu's family.

Three months after Xi's visit, six families in Zhaojiawa, including Liu's, moved to their 82-square-meter apartments of two bedrooms and a living room.

Leaving the land he used to live on, Liu now has been assigned a new job as a sanitation worker with a monthly income of 1,050 yuan.

Together with other income like pension insurance, basic living allowances and subsidies for returning farmland to forests, Liu's family now has a total annual income of more than 28,000 yuan, four times what they used to make.

"Now we have earned enough money for expenses and no longer need to worry about food and stuff," he said. "Life is so much better than in the past. I can buy all kinds of fruit and vegetables now. Back then, we only ate potatoes all year long."

He added, "The CPC has very good policies and cares about our poor people. I believe the 19th CPC National Congress will focus more on shaking off poverty and help us live a better life day by day." Liu said he wishes success for the National Congress.

"I hope the National Congress will unveil more policies to alleviate poverty, create more job opportunities for young people and provide sustainable support for relocated families like us. I'm looking forward to seeing the eradication of poverty by 2020. I also wish the urban-rural gap could be narrowed and we will enjoy easier access to education and medical service."

Liu began his new job after the National Day holiday, as well as his new life.

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