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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Retired policeman from Luxembourg transforms life in rural Chinese village

LifestyleRetired policeman from Luxembourg transforms life in rural Chinese village

For generations, the villagers in Zhadong, a remote village located in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, had been accustomed to a simple way of life. Their daily routine often revolved around farming, with most people not venturing beyond their village or the nearby town. The regional capital, Nanning, was the farthest distance many of them could fathom, until the arrival of a man from Luxembourg in 2018.

Hansen Nico Rene, a retired policeman from Luxembourg, was immediately captivated by the natural beauty of Zhadong village upon his first visit. The adobe homes, nestled amidst the lush greenery of the environment, fit seamlessly with their surroundings. However, upon closer inspection, Hansen noticed that the people were living in abject poverty, with only basic amenities in their homes.

Despite the lack of modern conveniences, Hansen was struck by the resilience and warmth of the villagers. Their spirit of hospitality was evident from the moment he entered their homes, and he was moved by their willingness to share what little they had with him. Hansen was determined to make a difference in their lives, and he soon embarked on a mission to improve the living conditions of the villagers.

Hansen’s efforts began with the construction of new homes for the villagers. The new houses were designed to be more spacious and comfortable, with modern amenities such as indoor toilets and heating systems. The new homes not only provided the villagers with a more comfortable living environment but also helped to raise their living standards.

In addition to providing new homes, Hansen also initiated projects to improve the infrastructure of the village. He worked with local officials to build new roads and bridges, making it easier for villagers to access basic services such as healthcare and education. The new infrastructure also helped to create new economic opportunities for the villagers, as it made it easier for them to transport their goods to nearby markets.

Through Hansen’s efforts, the villagers of Zhadong have been given a new lease of life. They are no longer confined by the limitations of their remote location, and they now have access to better living conditions and opportunities. Hansen’s legacy will continue to inspire future generations, showing that one person’s determination and generosity can make a significant difference in the lives of other

Zhadong village, where Hansen visited, is located in a remote mountainous area in Guangxi’s Hechi city. The village is tucked away in the mountains, surrounded by a spectacular karst landscape. However, despite its natural beauty, Zhadong was known for its grinding poverty. The villagers struggled to make ends meet, with limited access to basic amenities and opportunities.

Hansen had previously settled in downtown Hechi for six years before he visited Zhadong. He was no stranger to the challenges faced by the rural communities in the area. Hansen was drawn to Zhadong after seeing a notice for recruiting volunteers to aid the poverty alleviation campaign in March 2018.

Hansen’s decision to volunteer was driven by his desire to make a positive impact in the lives of the villagers. He had always been passionate about social causes and had spent most of his life serving in law enforcement. After retiring, he continued to look for ways to serve the community and make a difference.

The poverty alleviation campaign in Zhadong provided Hansen with an opportunity to put his skills and experience to good use. He was impressed by the resilience of the villagers despite their difficult circumstances. He was determined to help them improve their living conditions and break the cycle of poverty.

Hansen’s initial visit to Zhadong left a deep impression on him. He was struck by the contrast between the natural beauty of the village and the poverty of its inhabitants. Hansen knew that he had to do something to make a difference in their lives. He started by identifying their most pressing needs and working on solutions that would have a lasting impact.

Hansen’s commitment to the cause was evident from the start. He spent countless hours meeting with local officials and community leaders, discussing ways to improve the lives of the villagers. His efforts paid off, and today, the villagers of Zhadong have access to better living conditions and economic opportunities, thanks to Hansen’s tireless efforts.

Hansen’s story serves as an inspiration to others who want to make a difference in their communities. His willingness to volunteer his time and resources to help others is a reminder that we all have the power to make a positive impact in the world, no matter how big or small.

In 2015, over half of the approximately 600 residents of Zhadong village lived below the national poverty line, which meant their per capita annual income was less than 2,300 yuan ($331.7) at 2010 constant values, or $2.3 per person per day in terms of purchasing power parity. Moreover, some parts of the village were inaccessible by road when Hansen first visited.

Hansen’s arrival in the village drew significant attention, with villagers flocking to see the foreigner out of curiosity. Bi Yonghong, a 41-year-old villager, remembers the excitement of seeing Hansen for the first time, with many taking pictures of him with their phones.

During his initial visit, Hansen met Xie Wanju, then the first Party secretary of Zhadong. Despite the rainy weather, dozens of people were busy in the fields working with cables, bamboo, and iron posts, so Hansen went to see what was going on.

Xie introduced himself as the first Party secretary and explained that they were preparing to grow passion fruit as part of their poverty alleviation efforts. Hansen was impressed by Xie’s dedication to the cause and offered his help if needed. This encounter marked a turning point in Hansen’s life.

Hansen recounts the moment fondly, saying, “We will never forget the first moment (we met) because this changed my whole life. I met the first Party secretary, and he was working for the government for poverty alleviation. That was amazing. I said if you need help, I have time.” Since then, he has become known as the village’s first Party secretary’s assistant, dedicating his time and resources to help the community.

Working closely together, Hansen and Xie visited every household in the village, documenting their incomes and needs. Hansen became familiar with every resident in the village, and his hardworking nature and kind heart made him a beloved figure in the community. Villager Bi Yonghong remembers Hansen’s visits fondly, describing him as “warm-hearted and hardworking” and always willing to lend a hand on the farms.

During his visits, Hansen suggested that the village utilize the land behind it to build a farm, and he actively participated in the construction work. The farm that was built now brings over 100,000 yuan in revenue to the villagers each year. Under Hansen’s guidance, Xie and other poverty alleviation workers developed featured industries, including cattle and sheep breeding and fruit planting. Their efforts paid off, and by November 2020, the entire Zhadong village had successfully eradicated poverty.

Hansen is incredibly proud of the work he has done in the village, saying, “Now everything has changed. The adobe homes have gone. Today everyone lives in new houses with a separate kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedrooms. There is also electricity and internet connection.” Hansen’s voluntary work in Zhadong ended in May 2021, and although he returned to the city, he remains deeply attached to the village. He regularly goes back to visit his old friends and promote tourism in the area by sharing pictures of local landscapes and cultural events on social media with his friends in Europe and beyond.

Xie, who has returned to his work as an official in a government agency in Hechi, is grateful for Hansen’s contribution to the village. He describes Hansen as embodying the spirit of Lei Feng, a Chinese soldier who became famous for his devotion to duty and service to others. Hansen’s selflessness and dedication to the community have not gone unnoticed, and Xie believes that his efforts have helped to promote the core spirit of the Party and volunteerism in China.

Hansen agrees that the Lei Feng spirit is an essential part of Chinese society, and he believes that it should be promoted more widely. Lei Feng was an ordinary young Chinese soldier in the 1960s who devoted himself to public service and helping others. Despite his untimely death at the age of 22, Lei’s spirit of selflessness and dedication to duty lives on in China and serves as an inspiration to others. Hansen hopes that his own efforts in Zhadong village can contribute to the promotion of this spirit and inspire others to volunteer their time and energy to help those in need.

In China, March 5 is celebrated as “Lei Feng Day” to commemorate a young soldier’s selfless devotion to duty. Since then, individuals who volunteer to help others and contribute to society selflessly and altruistically are referred to as “living Lei Fengs” and are highly respected.

The villagers of Zhadong have added a foreigner to their pantheon of “living Lei Fengs.” Hansen’s hard work and dedication to improving the lives of the villagers have earned him this recognition.

Hansen’s story shows the power of volunteerism in China and how it can bring positive change to communities. His contribution has not only improved the lives of the villagers but also helped the local economy prosper.

Hansen’s attachment to the village and his continued efforts to promote tourism and share pictures of local landscapes and cultural events on social media show that his commitment to the community goes beyond his volunteer work.

Hansen’s dedication to helping others and his selfless service to the village exemplify the spirit of Lei Feng, and his story serves as an inspiration to others to follow in his footsteps and contribute to society.

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