Across China: Man with polio rises above poverty on a wheelchair
SHIJIAZHUANG, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- Sitting on a wheelchair, Wang Zengliang carefully did the monthly bookkeeping for his small grocery store while his wife Zhang Fengying gave the change to customers.
A beam of sunlight poured in through the window, falling on the racks on which jujube wine, rice noodles and other local specialties were stored. A smile lit up the couple's faces as Zhang kneaded Wang's shoulders.
"The train of my life has rumbled through the miseries of poverty, pierced the darkness, running full steam ahead on the tracks of happiness," Wang said, creatively describing his life.
The 45-year-old lives in Xiaodi Village of Handan City, north China's Hebei Province. Wang had poliomyelitis even before he was a toddler. He earned a living as a balladmonger in other provinces far from home.
Though gifted with a good voice, Wang had tasted all the bitterness of life -- living in a tiny, shabby rented room and having cheap vegetarian food. Loneliness was overpowering for the physically challenged man.
"I was like a beggar back then and had only two meals a day," he recalled emotionally.
Wang was categorised as a registered impoverished villager in September 2017 and then persuaded to come back to Xiaodi by Wang Qingtian, Party secretary of the village.
After his return, Wang took a stake in a local vegetable growing cooperative with the help of cadres looking after poverty alleviation in the village. He reaped dividends from the income of other collective businesses such as producing photovoltaic electricity on a small scale. Wang also received subsistence allowances, disability subsidies, as well as nursing services.
The cadres also invited Yang Xuemin, vice president of the Handan musicians association, to Wang's home several times, to train him in singing and making video clips.
What Wang learned soon came in handy as he started livestreaming local scenery and foods, and selling local specialties on Chinese short video platform Kuaishou in 2018. He also livestreamed himself singing on the platform and had over 10,000 followers. The virtual gifts he received while performing also added to his income.
He bade farewell to poverty by the end of that year and took the advice of running a grocery store from his one-on-one poverty-relief helper, while Xiaodi, named one of the "10 most beautiful villages in China," attracted more tourists.
Wang started with a 30,000-yuan (about 4,539 U.S. dollars) loan. Village cadres like Wang Qingtian helped him handle all the procedures and the purchase of racks and merchandise. The store opened in May 2019.
His firm spirit and diligence were greatly appreciated by his online followers, including Zhang Fengying, who expressed her love for Wang and came to live with him all the way from the city of Jiamusi in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. The two got married in September 2019.
Wang now earns more than 23,000 yuan a year from his store, poverty alleviation projects and land transfer, as well as his allowances and subsidies.
He still sings, but his lyrics are not full of sadness and loneliness, but exude warmth and happiness.
"We are going to expand the store and develop the second floor into a family hostel," his wife said. Enditem