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by Xinhua writer Jiang Shengxiong

ZHENGZHOU, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- In Lushi County, one of the poorest in central China's Henan Province, Yang Shuchun navigates the muddy path to his house in the Funiu Mountains on crutches, carrying two buckets of water.

Yang lost his left leg in a mining accident in 1992, but it has not stopped him from striving for a better life, both for himself and his community.

"I've lived in poverty since I was a kid," he said. "Now, even with one leg, I'm trying to do something about it."

On Oct. 11, the State Council issued an instruction on poverty relief, asking county authorities to make best use of people's creativity and energy. Yang is a man with seemingly limitless supplies of both.


Yang grows mushrooms, chestnuts and other crops, and he raises some pigs. Even today, both Yang and his wife, Wang Xiuzhen, find it hard to talk about the dark days that followed the accident.

"We were so poor we could afford little more than a liter of cooking oil for the whole year," said Wang. "Those times were tough."

Beset by an array problems, the couple did not have a child until 1995. Their son Yang Huaiping was born when Wang was 36. Only then did Yang begin to creep out of his depression.

"Even though she is much thinner than me, when I needed to visit the doctor, she would carry me up and down the mountains on her back ," Yang said. "With a growing family to feed, it was duty to find a way of raising my spirits."

With Wang by his side, he learned to walk again and was soon able to carry firewood and climb trees.

"It was really hard at first. I would fall face first onto the ground when going uphill. I was covered in bruises. But she never gave up on me.

"She picked me up and pushed me to keep trying, and that was how I learned to do what work I can, regardless of being on only one leg." he added, before standing up to showcase his hopping skills.

Like almost everything Yang does, his method of hoeing his fields is quite unique, and executed with considerable panache. To prevent damage to the crops, he puts his crutches aside and hops across the field to hoe, which has made him a more efficient hoer than most of the other villagers.

Now, he spends almost 12 hours in the fields each day, earning up to 20,000 yuan (3,000 U.S. dollars) each year from his mushrooms alone. It might not seem like much, but is far in excess of China's rural poverty line of 2,300 yuan.

"We have never asked the government for anything," Yang said. "There are a lot of things we can do on our own to lead a better life."


Yang's hard work and determination has not gone unnoticed, neither in his village, nor in the county seat. He continues to help other villagers just like he has always done.

"I often give mushroom spores to my friends," he said.

He is always ready to help those in urgent need with cash or with provisions, and his personal battles have galvanized those around him to do more in their respective battles.

"He's a role model for us," said Xu from Yang's village. "More of us have learned to grow mushrooms and sell them for a profit, courtesy of Yang leading the way."

Moreover, Yang's endeavors have caught the eye of the local government. A nationwide campaign has encourage local governments to make the most of their local specialties and advantages. In the case of Lushi County, this means mushrooms, poultry and kiwi fruit.

"Unlike others , he never waited for people to give him a hand or a push in the right direction, which has motivated us as well," said Cao Wenchao, deputy secretary of the local party committee. "We're now encouraging our villagers to dig deeper into our resources and providing marketing channels for them."

"We're making the most of 'Internet Plus' to promote our pollution-free, environmentally-friendly produce," said Wang Qinghua, a county official. "E-commerce will be a crucial ally in our battle against poverty."

The measures are in line with China's latest emphasis on poverty alleviation. On Oct. 17 , the third National Poverty Alleviation Day, the State Council released a white paper on poverty relief, stressing the importance of local industries in rural areas.

As for the future, the work of his local government meshes with Yang Shuchun's own prospects as, with the help of his son, he plans to open an online store on Taobao, China's biggest shopping site.

"My son will be back home soon with his fiancee," Yang said with a grin. "He's quite technologically adept after years at a vocational school.

"I hope to earn more than 150,000 yuan next year, with Taobao providing the extra push," he added.

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