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Xia Yuancong with one arm achieved a moderately well-off life

In the early morning, a few beams of sunlight poured into the vegetable market of Tuobuka Town. Geng Wenfen brought several baskets of steamed buns out and the smell of brown sugar spread gradually in the air.

As soon as the steamer basket was opened, people gathered around to buy freshly steamed buns. Although Geng Wenfen cannot hear voices caused by inappropriate medication when she was young, and only can read lips, it doesn’t stop her from communicating with her customers. Her husband, Xia Yuancong, sometimes would come and help her with packing buns.

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Gen Wenfen is selling steamed buns. [Photo/Yuan Hongkai]

The steamed stuffed buns were sold out in the twinkling of an eye. Mr. Xia stepped back from the crowd and took out his phone to take a picture of the bustling scene.

He seldom had time to help with selling buns. He runs an appliance repair shop in the town, and also holds positions in Dashujiao Village where is more than 30 kilometers away from Tuobuka Town. Over the decades, the couple marched forward a fairly and moderately prosperous life through their tenacity, excellence and self-development, and the achievement made by them also encourage more and more people, providing them very strong motivation to create a bright future.

Too poor to buy a two-yuan pair of socks

In 1989, Mr. Xia went to Geng Wenfen’s home for engagement with a piece of cured meat worth 40 yuan. 

Mr. Xia was born and raised in Dashujiao Village. In 1988, he fell from a high place when building a wall. At that time, there was only poor medical condition. A local helped him fix the left arm with plaster splints, resulting in necrosis following congestion. After walking two days, he arrived at hospital in Dongchuan district. After diagnosis, there was no useful treatment but amputation. His relatives worried that he would not get married and they quickly arranged for him.

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Xia Yuancong (the right). [Photo/Yuan Hongkai]

“Many people got engaged with huge gifts. I didn’t have too much money but a piece of cured meat.” Mr. Xia said in a relaxed tone.

In 1993, Mr. Xia was recommended by the Dongchuan Disabled Persons' Federation to learn the skills of repairing home appliances in Kunming. One year later, a company was willing to hire him with a monthly salary of 500 yuan but he turned it down. In his words. “whatever I do, I want to do it at home.” 

Mr. Xia rented a small shop in the town and the whole family moved to the town from Dashujiao Village.

In the 1990s, home appliances were just emerging in rural areas. Almost every family had cassette tape recorders. As there was no electricity, people had to bring back batteries. Sometimes there was something wrong with the cassette tape recorders, they would ask Mr. Xia for help. Xia said, “there were too many cassette tape recorders to be repaired that they could fill a train each year.”

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Xia Yuancong is repairing a TV. [Photo/Yuan Hongkai]

However, tape recorder is not easy to repair. What impressed Mr. Xia most was that he once received 4 yuan from fixing a tape recorder all night long.  

When time went by and the couple’s children were enough old to go to school, the burden of life became heavier and heavier. Recalling that period of hardship, Mr. Xia said,”we were too poor to pay 2 yuan for socks.” 

The money he earned from repair shop was not enough to support his family. Mr. Xia have tried to make money by growing all kinds of cash crops such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. They had to transport fresh vegetables to Dongchuan at night and wait for merchants to buy them at 4 a.m. “That was hard, really.” Mr. Xia sighed.

On the other side, Gen Wenfen made efforts to ease this heavy load. She tried doing small businesses by selling vegetable, potato pancake and the like. Later, she learned how to make steamed buns from a skilled woman, and opened a steamed bun shop in Tuobuka Town in 2013.

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Buns made by Gen Wenfen. [Photo/Yuan Hongkai]

The steamed buns she serves are very popular with locals. Mr. Xia praised that the buns Ms. Geng serves are soft and fluffy and filled with delicious brown sugar. Usually, the buns almost sold out everyday and the best record was 3,000 a day.

Mr. Xia was engaged in repairing appliances while Ms. Geng was busying with selling steamed buns. They achieved better life and their children went to college.

Villagers built new houses these years

In 2014, the village started registration work of evaluating registered poor households. Mr. Xia and Ms. Geng were in special needs and their children were in college, which made the family fully meet the requirements.

“I don’t want it and I can achieve self-reliant and build wealth by myself. The support funds should be given to those in need.” Mr. Xia said in a strong voice. In his opinion, if one doesn’t work hard, no one could help him.

Mr. Xia also holds positions in the village. When the "home appliances to the countryside" policy was issued, he bought a computer and learned how to use office software by searching online. Some villagers were willing to ask him for help.

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Xia Yuancong is working in his repair shop. [Photo/Yuan Hongkai]

Once it rained heavily at 3 a.m., a villager called him and asked him, "will the rain bend my bricks outside?” Recalling that night, Mr. Xia couldn't help laughing and said, "locals are so cute."

Done with the business related to the villagers, Mr. Xia will return to the repair shop where is full of TV set, water heater, induction cook-top and other parts of home appliances. Until now, he has been repairing home appliances for 30 years. Most of the people would rather wait for him than find another repairman. 

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Life is getting better and better, Xia Yuancong smiles. [Photo/Yuan Hongkai]

 “Life becomes better. I haven’t repaired cooker for a long time.” Mr. Xia cannot clearly tell from what time life became better. It seems that the whole town has gradually marched toward a moderately prosperous life since 2016.

“In the past, there was no tap water and people have to get water from wells. There was no electricity and people had to burn firewood to cook.” Mr. Xia pointed out that great changes have taken placed in Tuobuka Town. In recent years, Tuobuka's infrastructure is improving daily. Every family built new houses, and the trees on the mountain is becoming greener and greener.

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Xia Yuancong's newly built house. [Photo/Yuan Hongkai]

Mr. Xia’s younger son just got married in September and their newly built house is still full of marriage decorations. When they return home from business, they always clean the floor and water plants on the balcony. Mr. Xia sit on the sofa said over a cup of tea, “we don’t have to worry about food, house anymore, the moderate prosperity indeed changes my life.”

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(Editors: Rachel, Christine) 

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