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Little Zhang spends her weekends at home with her family, studying and helping her father to look after her mother and year-old brother, both of whom have mental disabilities and cannot take care of themselves. During the week she attends a boarding school in the township, with the help of a charity, working towards her goal of getting into university and eventually landing a job in a big city like Beijing.
But although Little Zhang is under huge pressure, she says it motivates her. If anything, it makes me more competitive with my classmates. Right now I just need to get into the best high school in the county, then into university so I can get a good job.
The village was the first base for the communist-led army during the Sino-Japanese war and the civil war, but its significance as a revolutionary stronghold means little now.
It has remained a poor rural area while the urbanised parts of China continue to make economic strides. But when President Xi Jinping vowed to wipe out poverty back invillages like Xiaoguancheng were the focus for the campaign. More than 30 million people were still living below the line in the second half ofbut the government has projected that at least 10 million people will be lifted out of poverty this year.
It says over 68 million people have risen out of poverty in the past five years. So far though, it seems not much has changed for the Zhangs and other villagers. A line of persimmons dries in the sun on a windowsill, bright orange against the drab grey exterior.
They have two electrical appliances — a year-old washing machine, which sits outside, and a second-hand television bought nine years ago. Inside, the two-room home is dark and spartan.
A wok and other basic kitchen equipment are stacked on the ground beside a brick fireplace used for cooking, while a small coal-burning heater gets the family through the bitter winter months.
It is an uncomfortable, harsh existence, but Zhang said he was doing the best he could to look after his wife and children. This remote Chinese school has just three students.
But with live streaming technology, they share a classroom with hundreds The family earns just 1, yuan per year from the two tonnes of corn they grow on their land. Zhang said his luck changed when he was offered a fire patrol job in the mountains this winter, paying 8, yuan a year.
But he is not sure if it is just a one-off contract, and either way the family will continue to struggle financially. They eat simply, with corn as the staple.
Zhang sells some of the harvest in exchange for wheat and rice, and they grow their own cabbage, potatoes and carrots. Meat is a special treat reserved for the holidays.
She was inspired by a trip to Beijing in to celebrate her birthday, paid for by the charity group, and particularly a visit to the planetarium.
He has borrowed money to pay for his son to attend university in Baoding, a city in the province, where he is in his second year majoring in equipment manufacturing.
Wang said he was too old to move to the city as a migrant worker and he needed to stay in the village to take care of his year-old mother. A state-owned company tasked with helping the village sent the family 10 kilograms of rice and a bottle of cooking oil, he said, and that was it.
Zhang Yanli, 50, has had to borrow 50, yuan to pay medical bills and school fees since her husband had a stroke seven years ago, leaving him partially paralysed.
They sell eggs from their 10 chickens but it is far from enough to cover their costs, especially with their year-old son studying at a vocational college, and their daughter, 11, at a boarding school.
Her husband, year-old Zheng Gang, receives a disability allowance of 2, yuan every year, but that does not even cover his medical costs. We think you'd also like Thank youYou are on the list.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: On the front line in the war on poverty.The Texarkana Gazette is the premier source for local news and sports in Texarkana and the surrounding Arklatex areas.
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