Beyond the Pig

A photograph of the author, Brooke Edwards.

By Brooke Edwards

February 9, 2012

The year 2011 was very special for the villagers of Wushan community, Houshan, Anhui, China. This was the year they said goodbye to the muddy road and welcomed a flat, cement road.

Villagers enjoy the new cement road.
The old road in winter,
before cement was laid.

Wushan Self-Help Group (SHG) is situated at the edge of the village, with only 100 families, for a total population of 400. Of those 400, only 100 members actually live in the village year-round, while their family members sell their labor in other cities. Transportation from the village to anywhere else has always been very inconvenient due to the muddy and rubble-filled conditions of the main road. In the rainy season, only motorcycles and small vans could successfully travel it. Flooding after a big storm would always wash the road away, and farmers would have to level it. This struggle went on for years and, with no funds to build a cement road, the villagers were helpless to do anything about it. The biggest victims were the children who had to walk to school on the road.

In 2011, things changed. With motivation from their work in the Heifer project, the villagers decided to use the resources secured through the project to improve the road. Combining help fromt he local government and the SHG's group savings, a cement road was finally built in the village. Children are happy because, much to their parents' relief, they now ride to school in a van on the newly paved road. The two SHGs in Wushan are determined to use the road to improve income, too. With transportation no longer an obstacle, they can increase hog-raising activities to a more profitable scale. In addition to better transportation, the new road opens the door to outside markets and information.