May 6, 2010

CHINA: Man, 74, repairs village road from savings

BEIJING, China / The People's Daily / Life & Culture / May 6, 2010

Qin Bencheng has been urged many times to move into his new house, however, instead, the 74-year-old insists on making do with his run down cottage in remote area of Jiushu village in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, and gives a simple reason: "I haven't finished my road yet".

Fallen trees and flooded roads are seen in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality on May 6, 2010. [Photo/]

Standing on a rugged road, Qin gathers his strength and swings a hammer to break big rocks.

"He never listens to me and has voluntarily kept repairing the road for nearly 15 years," says Xiong Denggao, the village director.

Qin, a poor widower, has enjoyed the "five guarantees" (guarantee of food, clothing, housing, medical care, and burial) since 1995. Last December, a new house was especially built for Qin, but he didn't move in.

To show his gratefulness to the local government, the widower vowed to repair roads for his village, which are connected to outside world via just one bumpy path.

"I thought I was sentenced to spending my lifetime in poverty, but five-guarantees policy gave me hope. Now I'm shared 2,100 yuan ($307.4)per month," Qin says. "Then I promised myself to live up to the government's kindness."

Poverty has uprooted able-bodied young people and taken them to big cities for better earnings, leaving the elderly and young children in remote mountainous areas.

Since then, the widower made the utmost possible efforts to mend roads with the hope that new roads could benefit all the other 60 residents in the village.

He empties his purse to buy hammers, axes, drilling steel and blasting powder. He gets up early in the morning and starts to work at 6 o'clock.

The village is located at high altitude and controlled by karst landform, which extremely drag his feet.

Age has clouded his vision and hard work almost prostrated him.

But the old man shrinks at nothing in such difficulty, even though some other villagers deem it as a sudden impulse.

"Less than one meter was done at the beginning," Qin recalled that he made tardy progress in the harsh geographic environment.

In the past 15 years, he put all his savings from five-guarantees on road repairing and completed four kilometers of road. He now continues to expand the convenience to the last two families of the village. "I won't move to the new house while the road remains unfinished," he says. [rc]