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在线翻译:
szdaily -> In depth -> 
Student essay highlights poverty battle in SW China
    2015-08-11  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    A STUDENT’S heartbreaking essay of life in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province has prompted reflection on the country’s fight against poverty.

    In the 300-word essay titled “Tears,” Muku Yiwumu, of the Yi ethnic minority in Liangshan Prefecture, recounted her sadness and helplessness following the deaths of her parents.

    “My father died four years ago,” the essay began. It went on to say there was no money available to treat her mother after she suddenly fell ill.

    After a day at the hospital, her mother pleaded to return home. “I feel uncomfortable here,” her mother said. “I’m better off at home.”

    “I took my mom home and cooked for her. She was dead by the time dinner was ready,” wrote the student.

    “In China, there is a place called Sun Moon Lake,” she continued. “Maybe the lake water is made of my tears from missing you, Mom.”

    The essay went viral on a popular microblog after being posted by a volunteer teacher. It had attracted more than 5,000 comments as of 9 a.m. Aug. 1, with netizens calling it “the saddest essay ever.”

    The story sparked an outpouring of compassion from the public. A website launched a donation portal for children in Liangshan, with a total of 470,000 yuan (US$74,000) collected as of noon July 31. It also spurred discussions of China’s poverty-relief campaign.

    “It kills me to see those people still suffering from poverty in an increasingly well-off society,” commented a netizen with the screen name HYP_Nozomi on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

    “Poverty-relief is a hard nut to crack, so instead of simply allocating funds, the government should figure out a way to make the ongoing battle more effective,” HYP_Nozomi continued.

    China has lifted more than 600 million people out of poverty in the past 15 years, accounting for about 70 percent of those brought out of poverty worldwide. Yet the country still faces an uphill battle in improving the lives of 70 million poverty-stricken people in the countryside, largely in the country’s underdeveloped western and central areas.

    Hard battle

    Mayi Village, one of the poorest villages in Liangshan, is on the “key-assistance” list for the prefectural government.

    Winding roads in the mountains lead to the remote village, about 11 kilometers from Liangshan’s Meigu County. The area has surprisingly bad transportation infrastructure. According to locals, even the best SUVs cannot traverse the rugged roads to reach the village during the rainy season.

    Guci Zuogu’s family lives in a ramshackle dwelling in Mayi Village. When Xinhua reporters arrived at the house, the seven family members were sitting on the ground around a bamboo basket eating a lunch of potatoes, their staple food.

    The family shares a house with their livestock. Cows sleep on the left side and Guci’s family sleeps on the right. The house emitted a pungent smell. Guci said they had no money to build a cowshed.

    Outside the house, a smiling boy ran around, his body covered in dirt. The 7-year-old, nicknamed “Little Calf” by local villagers, said he had never taken a shower before. There is no toilet in his home, he said, adding that he didn’t even know what toilet paper looked like.

    In Liangshan’s Zhaojue County, drugs have led many to poverty. With fewer than 300,000 people, 10 percent of the county’s residents once engaged in the drug trade. At its worst point, almost every family was involved, a villager told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

    A 74-year-old woman told Xinhua that her five children all died from drug use.

    “I don’t know what I live for right now,” the petite woman sobbed while standing in her shabby adobe house.

    According to government statistics, about 600,000 rural residents in Liangshan Prefecture, or 13.5 percent of its total population, are still struggling in poverty, 5 percent more than the national average.

    Poverty reduction remains a challenge for Chinese policymakers, with more than 70 million people living below the country’s poverty line, defined as an annual income of less than 2,300 yuan.

    Though the government’s poverty relief fund has nearly doubled in four years, the effect is far below expectations. Only 12.32 million people emerged from poverty last year, compared with 43.29 million in 2011.

    “One of the biggest reasons for prolonged poverty in China is a dearth of education,” said Xia Xueluan, a sociology professor at Peking University.

    The village head of Mayi Village agrees. The official said that because Maigu County’s boarding schools can only accept a limited number or boarders, those who fail to obtain school housing must walk to school, a four-and-half-hour journey by foot.

    “It is too far away, so many children like Little Calf simply drop out of school,” he said.

    In Liangshan, many rural residents have become drug addicts due to insufficient knowledge about drugs, he added.

    Liangshan recorded 35,329 cases of HIV/AIDS from 1995 to 2014 and currently has 21,631 people living with HIV.

    “If only the drug addicts had been educated, their lives could have been very different,” said Jikeri, a local anti-drug police officer.

    Another problem undermining the government’s poverty relief efforts is widespread corruption among low-ranking officials and the embezzlement of funds intended for agricultural development and poverty relief, Xia added.

    Finding a way out

    Xia said that a targeted poverty campaign is needed if China wants to effectively tackle this complicated issue.

    “You cannot remove poverty by simply giving out money,” Xia said. “You have to find out why people are cash-strapped. Is it because of a lack of work? Is it due to illness? Only in this way can limited resources reach particularly needy groups,” Xia said.

    He added that more education programs should be launched to help children in rural areas learn practical skills. “Poverty-relief is a hard battle and it requires concerted efforts from all of society,” the professor said. “It is a long-term battle.”

    China is resolved to help the impoverished shake off the burden of poverty. Vice Premier Wang Yang said in July that the Central Government will evaluate poverty relief work by local governments at different levels.

    He also said that China should raise funding for poverty relief from diversified channels and improve infrastructure and public services in poor areas to help people find jobs, start businesses and get out of poverty.

    The central treasury has allocated a 46.1-billion-yuan fund for poverty relief from the central budget this year, up 8 percent from last year.

    Social media users are hoping that the efforts will help solve the issue more effectively.

    “I hope that one day when I look into the eyes of those in Liangshan, I will not see tears and sadness, but hope and happiness,” read a comment by Weibo user “_Edone.” (Xinhua)

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