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Seeds of Transformation in Rural China: Wanmay's Story

Seeds of Transformation in Rural China: Wanmay's Story

Patience is key in cultivating long-term, sustainable transformation.

And humility.

And complete trust in God’s faithfulness to tend the seeds we sow in lives and communities.

These principles are displayed in the life of Wanmay, a student in rural China who encountered IDEAS Associates when she was 13 years old.

Waymay’s life is typical of young people living in these areas. She had limited access to education and financial resources, other than what little was provided through her family’s farm.

As a result, she had little hope for her future. Her time was spent on the farm, supporting the family, and when she could, she attended school. But as she got older, the cost of high school was prohibitive, and it was unlikely she would be able to continue her education.

Through IDEAS Community Development efforts, families like Wanmay’s are finding resources, support and encouragement that their future can be better, that they can escape the deep poverty and hopelessness in which many of them find themselves.

This is the transformation they really need: from being without hope to finding and sharing hope. They need to know that there is someone who cares, who is patiently supporting and encouraging them, humbly walking alongside them, trusting God to show up faithfully in their circumstances.

Let’s hear Wanmay’s story in her own words:

My name is Wanmay, and I’m Yi. Yi is a minority people group in China, the last to fall in the Communist Revolution in 1955.

After the rise of Communism, land was collectivized among local farmers, which meant my relatives had to adapt to a new communal farming system. This was completely foreign to them. In the late 1970’s land was again redistributed according to family size at the end of the revolution, and there was little opportunity to buy additional land or to grow the size of a farm when children were born into the family.  As a result, farms were most often very small as was the farming income.

My friends and I grew up on small farms, and our families did the best they could with what they were given. Life was primarily work and school. My siblings and I would walk a mile to attend school because everyone knew that education is the biggest chance of getting out of poverty.

We had pigs and chickens in our backyard as a source of income. Potatoes were our main sustenance. Meat was scarce. We raised primarily potatoes for income and vegetables such as cabbage, which we fed to the pigs. We cooked and slept in one room, so it was smoky inside our home. We would squat on the floor with a ladle and eat from a pot of vegetables and potatoes together. During the winters we built fires in the firepit to stay warm and to boil food for the pigs. We fetched water from a nearby stream.

My friends and I helped our parents with the farm by the time we could walk. The older girls take care of the younger siblings, and the boys go out in the fields to dig potatoes and weeds and haul manure to the fields or tend the pigs and goats.

As a minority, the Yi people developed our own culture. We are proud of our history and ethnicity. However, many look down on us, but we are hard-working people who are trying to make a living and work our way out of poverty. Because of these misperceptions by the majority culture, it’s difficult for us to find jobs. If we do find jobs, it’s easy to be exploited and lured far from home.

My dad mined ore, which is a dangerous job. He did not see a way out of his circumstances and became addicted to drugs. My mom worked the farm and did her best to provide for me and my two siblings. Families in my village make $500 to $1,000 per year. High school, including room and board, costs $750 to $1,000 per year, which makes education impossible to afford. Parents will work any job they can get and will go far away to give their children an education and an opportunity to get out of poverty.

When I was 13 years old, tragedy struck my family.

My mom was hit by a car and seriously injured. I needed to take a year off from school to care for her while she was in the hospital. I knew she needed me, and my family was the most important thing. My education would have to wait, and I hoped one day I could return to school and finish my education.

It was during this terrible time for me and my family that I first encountered local IDEAS Community Development Associates. And in that difficult moment, they began to show me that there was still hope…

Click HERE for the conclusion to Wanmay's story!

Today, will you help multiply our efforts in planting seeds of hope around the world for communities like Wanmay's by giving towards IDEAS $25,000 Matching Campaign


About the Author: Chris is an IDEAS Associate and has been working with rural communities in China since 2002. He uses his engineering background to demonstrate God's love through community transformation projects. His work involves helping rural Chinese communities rise out of poverty. Click here to read more about how hope is being restored in China.