Poverty alleviation program in NW China’s Shaanxi province helps lift handicapped residents out of poverty

Photo shows He Xiaoting designing toys. (Photo by Yuan Taoxiong/People's Daily)

Thanks to a poverty alleviation program, He Xiaoting, a 31-year-old Chinese woman who suffers from post-polio syndrome, has secured a job as a toy designer in a factory of her hometown and shaken off poverty.


“I dreamt of owning a doll when I was a little girl and now I can help more girls realize theirs,” He said.


When she was young, He, a resident in Xingzhen township, Weinan, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, had a high fever and has since been stricken with post-polio syndrome.


For all these years, she has been abnormally short and her hands smaller compared with her peers. She also has difficulty standing for long. Although He is now 31 years old, she is just as tall as a child of 12 or 13.


As her parents are seriously ill and couldn’t work, He has plucked up the courage and shouldered the burden of supporting her family.


In 2016, He, who had been working for years in Xi’an, capital city of Shaanxi, returned to her hometown and applied for a job at the community factory in Xingzhen township shortly after the factory was established.


“My son is only two months old and I hope to find a job closer to my home so that I can better take care of him and my parents,” she told the recruiters.


As a result of a poverty alleviation program jointly launched by Shaanxi province and east China’s Jiangsu province, the community factory in Xingzhen township has helped lift 15 local impoverished households out of poverty.


The factory has also made 114 poverty-stricken households become better off by providing each of them at least 1,000 yuan ($146.3) in dividends per year.


According to He, she can design a simple toy in three hours and may need 4-5 days for complicated designs. “As I’m new in the industry, I certainly need to spend more time and efforts than others,” He explained.


After completing her own tasks, she also voluntarily learns other work in the factory. Since she is interested in all the jobs of the work flow, everyone in the factory is now familiar to her.


Due to her illness, He had to get around on a manual tricycle in her childhood. Her pleasant personality helped her get along well with her classmates, who would emulatively give her a hand with the tricycle.


Though she couldn’t move easily, she would try her best to help her parents with domestic chores.


At the age of 15, He went to Xi’an alone on crutches to study in a vocational school. She had been down in spirits for some time due to the unfamiliar environment.


“I was on crutches every day. And I felt everyone on the campus was looking at me,” He said.


Many students offered help to her, but she didn’t want to always trouble others, recalled He, who disclosed that one day, she got the courage, which she didn’t know how, to drop her crutches and start practicing walking on her own weak legs.


“I couldn’t remember how many times I fell down. But I continued to practice walking by myself as long as I could stand up,” she recalled.


Finally, she walked to the bus station on her own one day and then traveled around the city by bus. “I felt like I had won a huge victory and it was the happiest day of my life,” she said happily.


After graduation, He first assembled circuit boards in an electronic component factory in Xi’an. She worked very hard there. Besides doing a good job with her own tasks, she would also learn to use design software after work.


During her time in Xi’an, He also studied accounting at a school for adults. She went to work during the day and took accounting courses at night. In her spare time, she would continue to study different kinds of office and design software.


He is really grateful that she could now secure a job as a toy designer near her home. Sometimes, she brings waste toy samples home, which can always thrill her son. In the eyes of her son, He is just like an “awesome magician”.


The community factory has provided jobs for a total of 13 handicapped residents. By securing a job near home, these people have not only earned money, but become more confident in their daily life, said Gao Wuguo, secretary of Communist Party of China Xingzhen township committee.


“Taking advantage of Xingzhen’s industrial transformation, we will encourage more companies to shoulder social responsibilities and help convert poverty alleviation resources to benefits, thus helping more impoverished and handicapped people secure jobs near their homes,” Gao added.

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