Lives and Livelihoods are Interconnected

In a village, the livelihoods of many extended families as well as their struggles are intertwined. Poverty alleviation is a process. The phrase “development work” implies that lasting change requires time and intentionality. To understand the needs within a village, CWEF conducts interviews. Discovering the full situation of families facing poverty allows CWEF to more effectively partner in overcoming these challenges.

Consider walking in the shoes of 46-year-old Yicun from Yanmaidi village in Yunnan province.

Like most others in Yanmaidi, Yicun is Lisu – one of China’s many ethnic minority groups. She attended school through grade 9, which is typical for her generation in this area. Yicun and her husband have two adult children, a 22 year-old son who is a construction worker in another province and an 18 year-old daughter who is in nursing school. On their small plot of land, Yicun and her family farm tobacco and chili peppers as their main source of income. The costs for her daughter’s nursing education consume a majority of the annual income. Yicun and her husband are proud of their efforts to save and pay for her schooling. They look forward to the day when she graduates, in three years, with the hope that their quality of life will improve.

Health issues impair the family. Her mother-in-law suffers from gastric ulcers, which cause dizziness and more recently fainting spells. Consequently, she is unable to assist with farm labor. Yicun has suffered for years from a gynecological disease. A visiting county doctor diagnosed her condition and prescribed medication. But the side effects were very severe and prevented her from work in the fields.

The Yanmaidi village has had access to a drinking water system for years, but the structures are increasingly breaking down. The whole village’s water system is connected. Consequently, the neighbor’s problems affect Yicun’s access to reliable clean water. In an attempt to address the issue, the villagers each chipped in a little money and elected a person to become the designated on-call pipe repairman.

Yicun’s husband was chosen, but the work was overwhelmingly unmanageable. The frequent calls, at any hour of the day or night, prevented him from tending to his own farm and livelihood. He recently quit. These days, Yicun needs to go to the water source, a spring, to collect water for her own family and also for other villagers.

You can enable CWEF to partner with villagers like Yicun by helping install or repair drinking water systems and by providing health training to improve their overall health and sanitation. Development is a process, and you can take part by helping families like Yicun’s to thrive.

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