That day I traveled to the countryside. When I arrived at the entrance of the village, I saw a 2-story building surrounded by a large blanket of low houses that looked like factory buildings. It was very quiet here, most likely another place left by animal-breeding businessmen.
The local who was accompanying me told me that the owner’s family name was Zhou. A few years ago, he earned quite a bit by selling domestic fowl so he built new houses and expanded his business.
I wondered, “why does he not raise chickens anymore? ” With this question in mind, I went to see the owner, who seemed very smart. After exchanging a few words of greetings, we discussed about his farming business.
"This is unmentionable ...” he said while he took a few smokes from his cigarette and slowly unfold the history of why he no longer raised chickens:
At that time, he did make a lot of money. The villagers elected him as a model to follow and a deputy to the National People’s Congress. In addition, he was judged as an advanced worker by the county and received a monetary award. Many people went to visit his farm. The village gave him the land where his farm was on. A leader even provided 20,000 RMB as project funds free-of-charge .The leader also was willing to give him a loan of 100,000 RMB at a low-interest to expand Zhou’s business and make his business well-known throughout the countryside.
Seeing how supportive the government and society are of him, Zhou became very ambitious. He spent all his savings and borrowed money everywhere. He left his chicken farm in the control of his employees. At the end of the year, the leader was transferred so the loans were off. Zhou borrowed too much money and his chicken farm became what it was that day. He had no more capital to raise chickens. At the moment, the only thing he could do was to return to his original state.
"%@*&! It’s XXX who forced us to expand. Although he gave me 20,000 RMB to help us, our lives are now worse off than before. If we had rejected his money, our lives would definitely have been better. I no longer believe in anything. I must do this myself slowly...” Zhou sighed.
In the same village not far from the chicken farm owner, we saw a hunch-backed, disabled man, who just returned from working for someone. He greeted us warmly from a distance and invited us to his home. He took out two old, wooden stools often seen in poor farms and wiped them with his shirt.
He had a younger brother , who was a mute. Neither of them married. Apparently, this household was the poorest in the town. They only farmed enough to feed themselves, and they did not bear any of the village costs. Furthermore, the government gave them 600 RMB a year, but they did not receive the majority of the money until the end of the year. Because they did not have any investments, the food outputs could not possibly solve their living expenses. At times, they must rely working for others to make ends meet. If they wanted to do anything else, they had no money.
Two years ago the hunch-backed borrowed 300 RMB from the branch of ARDY in the town. He bought and raised two pigs with the staff’s help while he worked for others on the side to repay the loan. At the end of the year, he paid off his debts and had his own pig. Although the pig only weighed about 50 kg., the brothers were so happy that they cried.
Last year, he once again borrowed two loans, amounting to 800 RMB. Besides buying pigs, he bought a small calf. This fall the calf began to plough so that they could go earn some money helping others plough during busy seasons.
"The staff members in ARDY were courageous for lending us money. Although we have to repay our loans and pay interest, our lives are looking hopeful now. Thank you very much.”
Just giving them an opportunity to borrow money, just a couple hundred of RMB’s, gave them the confidence that they found their method to survive. When we left, the brothers walked us out and said many thankful words.
On the way home, I pondered about a problem.: Why would someone who received 20,000 RMB and support from politicians be angry, while someone who enjoyed long-term government funding feel so grateful with one loan?
For those who are engaged in alleviating the poor and rural development, do you know what vulnerable groups really need?
(Translated by Liu YuLiang and edited by Jennifer Yau)