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China's Underbelly

7 September 2006

Guizhou, one of the most scenic provinces in China, is also one of the most poverty-stricken areas of the nation. Many villages hidden deep in the lushly mountains amid the thick foliage are still without basic infrastructures like electricity and running water.

Its unique landscape configuration dominated by the rocky hills with perilous peaks is stunningly beautiful. But a land as such is by and large unfertile for crops, and difficult for the residents to communicate with the outside world. Therefore historically, it has always been the desolate backyard of China.

As an old saying has it: Guizhou is a land that


Meaning: in Guizhou you’ll

Never experience sunny weather that lasts for more than three days,
Never see a level ground that is broader than three square metres,
Never encounter a local man who owns more than three pennies.

Although three decades of rapid economic development in China is phenomenal, its benefits have not been widely shared, and its impact has yet to be felt by the people in the deep of the Guizhou mountains.

A resident of mountainous village Chahua, in Guizhou Province Roasted potatoes are the daily meal of the villagers, nothing else.

The village school

Playground activity

Local teacher Zhang teaches all 46 children in the Chahua Village
The school budget can hardly afford anything else, apart from his wage which is 120 yuan a month (Apr. US$15 / month)

When the sorrowful situation of the mountain settlements in Guizhou, such as Chahua village, became known to the public through the Internet, a group of university students quickly realised that they could spend their summer vocation in a more meaningful way. Instead of taking casual jobs to earn quick cash, they took their savings and travelled to the village, working as volunteers.

A young volunteer on a class. The sentence on the blackboard read, "At night Beijing is a sea of light…"
The students are probably trying hard to work out just how many candles are needed in order to make a sea of light.

A volunteer from Zhongnan University’s Medical School returns from his visit to the village patients.
… So tied that he relies on a cane for a bit of support


It is where the young volunteers live

(Source of the original photos: 泡泡社区)



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