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Story and photos by He Fan | Communication and Networking Department Consultant | Heifer China
The first time we met 60-year-old Tang Fuming, she wore bright green clothing and a beaming smile that lit up her whole face. She led us to her new chicken lot and ceaselessly thanked Heifer and donors in Hong Kong for their gift of chickens and hope.
Tang Fuming lives in Xingjia Village, in the city of Chongqing. She lives with her husband, grandson and a son who has congenital epilepsy. They rely on a field less than half an acre and silkworm breeding to make a living, although their gross income is only 3,000 to 4,000 Renminbi per year, or $480 to $640. Tang said they could grow a little millet, sweet potatoes and corn in their field, but not enough to feed her family.
Tang remains optimistic despite the family's challenging situation. Although she suffers from complications of lower back pain and is unable to undertake heavy labor, Tang Fuming does all she can to improve her family's standard of living. When Heifer International came to her village, she took the lead and applied for the project. She received 3,000 Renminbi, or $479, from Heifer's Jiangjin Project to buy chicks and construct a chicken coop.
In the preliminary preparation stage, Tang almost abandoned the project since she was unable to construct the chicken coop by herself. However, Heifer’s assistant for Jiangjin County in the village's veterinary office found out about Tang's situation and took the initiative to help her plan and construct a spacious chicken coop.
Before she received her chicks, Tang participated in Heifer's technical training seminar on how to raise chickens. She took full advantage of the training to better her chances of improving her family's livelihood. She strove to learn all she could about how best to raise and take care of chickens, and participated in various technical exchange activities. She is now familiar with methods of scale-raising and is ready to share her knowledge with others. As a result, she became the backbone of the mutual aid team.
Tang’s family now raises 50 all-natural chickens for eggs and meat, increasing their annual income by about 3,000 renminbi, or $480. Tang is tired but happy when she is busy working near the chicken coop, for the income she will accrue from the chickens is not only related to their day-to-day livelihood, but will also pay for her son’s medicines and her grandson's schoolbooks.
This gives Tang strength in herself and hope for the future. When asked about her plans for the future, Tang said, “I am thankful for the help we received from Heifer. When our life improves, I will be selfless and deliver this same hope to others.”
These simple words contained the sincerest thanks.
When we were leaving the village, Tang and her son saw us off for a long while, continually expressing their gratitude along the way. We were deeply moved by this optimistic woman working for her family’s future. We could not help but think of our basic goal: we want to help families like Tang Fuming’s, so they will be able to support themselves up and have a better life!