With the support of TFish, this project aims to support poverty-stricken villagers living in Huining county, Gansu province. The project provides microloans to promote income and provide development opportunities to the villagers.
I was impressed by the face of Uncle Mao when I first met him in 2006. His face was full of wrinkles. He was almost 60 at that time. He was not married and stayed with his old mother. He took care of her, so he had to find temp jobs to do around the village. During the slack season, he would leave the village to do temp jobs. As he grew older, the income only came from the fields, which was only enough to meet the basic needs of life.
Entrusted by my friend, I was tasked with finding poverty-stricken families in the village. After visiting 5 households, Uncle Mao was one of the ones I chose.
I gathered the families and asked them to choose one item to generate their income. Most people chose sheep farming, but Mao chose differently.
He said, “I do not want to raise sheep. I want to buy a popcorn machine. I saw some people in the county doing popcorn. Furthermore, popcorn selling does not require going around the mountains. I can just find a place in a market.” I agreed, for everyone has the right to choose what he wants to do.
Uncle Mao and I bought the set of popcorn machine and materials in the county. We set the machine on his old tractor. We shook hands and said goodbye to each other. He started the tractor and disappeared on the road home.
When I met him again one month later, he gave me a big bag of popcorn. He was telling me costs and interests of his little business while I was eating.
He said, “I stayed at home before and earned nothing. Thanks to your help, I sold a bag of popcorn for 2 yuan, when it only costs about 50 cents. I can sell about 30 bags in the market. 60 yuan can buy some food, oil, or salt....Do you like the popcorn?”
“Yes, it's very good," I confirmed. "Would you like to eat some?” I offered.
When I was about to visit the village 7 or 8 years later, I thought a new road must have been built by then, for the public bus went to the village for a 3 yuan ticket. The village is over 10 kilometers away from the county. Now the asphalt roads replaced the dirt roads.
I still remembered Uncle Mao’s home was not far away from the village. I walked the wrong path anyway.
I had not seen Uncle Mao and his mother for about 8 years. The roads to the village changed a lot. I finally found his home: the house was new and I could barely recognize the yard.
I saw 2 children whom I didn't know. They said Uncle Mao went to visit his relatives. I learned that Uncle Mao was married, which was really a good news. Another news was his mother had passed away.
On leaving, I asked the 2 children to pass brick tea to Uncle Mao. I asked them to tell him it was from a person who had been eaten his popcorn.
Looking at the cow dung dried at the corner of the yard, I somehow sensed warmness.
Original article written by Cunjun Ma, translated by Maggie Li, and edited by Yanyan Zhang and Carolyn D.
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