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Ningxia residents begin the long climb out of poverty (4)

By Peng Yining (China Daily)

13:32, December 19, 2012

Local people haggling over the price of falcons at a market in Guyuan county.

"Even a bowl of beef noodles costs 10 yuan," she said.

Zhang Yanqin and her husband are illiterate and have no skills that will enable them to find work outside their village.

Waiting, depending, demanding

At 6 am, just as dawn was breaking, Zhang Yanqin cocooned herself in a baggy yellow sweater and walked in the icy morning wind. Her face glowed red from the cold. Every day she rises early to mow the field near her cave and provide fodder for the sheep.

She said the lambing season will start in a few months and each lamb could fetch as much as 400 yuan.

"Life is not easy. But relying on my own efforts is more practical and makes me feel better than accepting charity," said Zhang. "I want my children to learn that."

Zhang Xinqi, the village head, said 12 of the 42 households in Xiagaoyao village have found a way to make a living and alleviate their dependence on donations.

The village administration is trying to help farmers start businesses by providing training and a small subsidy, according to the village head. Some of the farmers tried breeding pigs three years ago, but failed through lack of experience.

However, when some families made a profit by breeding sheep, it quickly became a trend in the village.

"Donations can make people lazy," Zhang Xinqi said. "We called it deng kao yao, or 'waiting, depending, demanding'. You can't live on waiting, depending and demanding."

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