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Elders find comfort beyond their dreams

By Cang Wei in Nanjing | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-10-16 10:21
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Chang Desheng (fourth from left), Party chief of Jiangxiang, visits residents at the village's senior home.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Ni Tonglian, a 71-year-old farmer in Jiangxiang village, Changshu city, Jiangsu province, has lived in a condo at an upmarket senior home for free with his wife for almost 10 years.

"More than 90 percent of the senior people have moved to the condos at the home," says Ni."We not only live here for free, but also get a pension from the village."

In Jiangxiang village, men can get a pension when they reach 58 and women when they reach 55. The pensions vary from 600 yuan ($89) to 2,300 yuan a month.

Apart from the pensions, they also share out a year-end bonus from the village, which was 10,000 yuan last year. The average income of the 875 villagers reached 62,500 yuan in 2019, which exceeded that of the urban residents of Suzhou, one of the most developed cities in China.

Any senior living in the village can have a condo at the home for free when they reach 65. Most of them have moved to the 192 villas built by the village committee.

Jiang Yuying, director of the committee, says each 220 square meter villa cost 300,000 yuan to construct, but the villagers just need to pay 128,000 yuan.

"The villas were equipped with stoves, natural gas, solar water heaters and almost everything that was needed for daily life," says Jiang. "The village also hires professional medical workers at its medical center and pays for about 50 percent of the villagers' medical expense."

Now, Ni and his wife enjoy traditional opera shows for free at least once a month. Their daily routine includes reading newspapers, taking a walk in the gardens and sharing books with other seniors at the home. Ni says he never imagined he could live such a peaceful and prosperous life when he was young.

The village looked totally different then.

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