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Elderly village official vows to continue service


11:36, June 29, 2013

SHIJIAZHUANG, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Sun Xiulan, 84, said she will continue to serve her fellow villagers as long as she can walk and remains clear-headed.

"I still grow crops by myself and can eat two bowls of dumplings in one sitting. I can still ride a bike," Sun said, trying to dispel doubts as to whether she has enough energy to do her job.

She is currently working to encourage local entrepreneurs to start businesses in her home village of Bajiasi, located in northeast China's Hebei Province, in order to boost local incomes.

Sun was elected as secretary of the village's Communist Party of China (CPC) committee at the age of 60.

"The village was very poor then. I just wanted to make it a better place," she said.

"Since they chose me and my health allowed, I've been doing the job ever since," she said.

The arid village has a population of 1,800 people. It has little irrigable land and most of its farmers depend on the weather for a good harvest. Poverty has made it difficult for young men in the village to find wives and young women prefer to marry men from other locales.

"There are only four old wells in the village. We have little water to irrigate our land," said local resident Sun Changtai.

Sun Xiulan made great efforts to persuade the villagers to pool their money to pay for four motor-pumped wells. The wells have turned dry land into irrigable land and helped to boost wheat and corn output significantly.

To link the village to the outside world, Sun spared no effort in raising funds to build roads leading to the village in 2006.

Although the village is changing for the better, Sun still lives alone in adobe-style housing built four decades ago.

Sun was widowed after her husband passed away in 1992. Her six children live in the city.

Lu Shuyan, her 42-year-old daughter, has asked her to come live in the city for years, but has always been turned down.

"She never asks us for money. Sometimes she even sends us peanuts that she harvests," Lu said.

"My mother said she feels lost if she isn't working on village affairs," she said.

An outstanding debt totaling 40,000 yuan (6,474 U.S. dollars) that was incurred by road construction remains a headache for Sun.

"I hope the government can give us some support. The rest I can borrow from friends," Sun said.

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