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Carving out the Path out of Poverty in Small Stones

In the exhibition hall of Luze studio, Kongcun Town, Pingyin County, there are nearly a hundred stone carving works which are carved vividly, whether pavilions, terraces and towers, or plants and animals. It is hard to imagine that these stone carving works are made by a disabled rural old man over fifty years old, and the old man is Jiao Guang’en.

Hard Life Resulting from an Accidental Disability

On April 25, the reporter came to Luze studio, and laid eyes on Jiao for the first time when he immersed himself in carving a piece of inkstone. It can be seen that the “nib” of engraving machine quickly slide on the inkstone, a moment later, a sample of peony flower was completed. Subsequently, Jiao picked up a small water pipe at the side on the stone, and deftly replaced a flat-shaped "nib", carefully polished the stone, a "bright-colored" peony flower gradually presented in front of the reporter.

Jiao noticed the arrival of the reporter and his party only after carving was finished. He stood up on one leg with his hands propped on his chair, slowly moved from the bench with crutches, and shook hands with the guests. The reporter felt his hand very rough, full of calluses.

“I came to Luze studio at the end of 2013.” Jiao’s face was a little heaviness while talking about the past. In 1986, 19-year-old Jiao worked in a small brick factory near the village, "in a rainy day, slip while working caused my left leg accidentally involved in the blender, then it’s too painful, I lost consciousness. I woke up to know that I lost the left leg forever." This is where Jiao's eyes were slightly red.

Sureness after a Turnaround

In 2013, Jiao's life ushered in a turnaround. Jiao said, "In July that year, Pingyin County Disabled Persons’ Federation came to my home to ask for information and solve the problem of production and life of the disabled. At that time I was thinking about not to herd sheep, but to do something else.” He heard from the Federation staff that a company from Qingdao built a Luze studio in the town, and would like to solve the employment of the disabled. He went to find them with a mindset of trying.

“Originally I did not hope for much, but found it’s a lot better than I imagined while coming here to see the situation. At that time here were more than 10 the disabled working in the studio, I saw some of them in earnest painting, and some focusing on carving, my heart was particularly touched, especially when I knew that people working here can sign a labor contract, not only can earn 2500 yuan fixed income each month, but also can enjoy five social insurances, I feel at ease all at once.”

Since then, Jiao has become the "burden" of his family. His whole life should be looked after by his parents, coupled with income only depending on three mu of land, his life was in a difficult situation. In order to alleviate the pressure of his parents and make some money to supplement his family expenses, he began to help the villagers herding sheep from 1988. "I have herded sheep for 25 years, so I can be called an old shepherd, in those days, herding a sheep valued 5 yuan a year, I can herd 200 sheep at most, taking my 10 sheep off them, and my income is hundreds of yuan." Jiao said.

According to Jiao’s introduction, the reason why he chose to carve is that, previously at home, he particularly like doing some small furniture and handcrafts in order to resolve and vent the pressure in the mind, so that he thought carving should not really a big problem for him.

The reporter learned that, stone carving generally needs line drawing, depict, grinding, washing and other steps, the most critical step is line drawing. Jiao said he used 4 months to learn line drawing, just at the beginning can only copy other worker's works, but when he was skilled, according to the shape of the stone, he could quickly in the heart sketch out a relatively complete work.

Bright Prospect of Life Based on Policy of Security of Basic Living Needs 

“My first piece of work was an inkstone carved with pine trees." Jiao introduced. In April 2014, after 4 months of line drawing study, he first sat on the working table, and completed his first work for more than half a month, at that time his heart was filled with an unparalleled excitement and joy. From that time onwards, Jiao's life became wonderful with the advent of various works.

On that very day, the reporter picked up a piece of Jiao’s work from the display stand, which was carved with a conch and crab on top of a red stone. The entire work only is palm-sized, with a match-box-sized crab on it. Although the crab is small, its texture is finely carved and looks lifelike.

“From 2014 to now, such works I have carved are nearly 200 pieces, and I am very fulfilling every time I learned that my works were sold.” Jiao said. Now his life is more and more hopeful, not only can he make nearly 30,000 yuan annual income, but also he enjoys the Pingyin County’s aid-to-the-poor policy based on the security of basic living needs

The reporter learned that Pingyin County implemented three property alleviation policies on education, medical, disability relief based on the security of basic living needs. The disabled such as Jiao, in addition to a disability grant of 100 yuan per month, are reimbursed for all cost of drugs listed in the national anti-poverty drugs catalogue if they go to hospital. "Our village is a poor village, this year the government built a poverty alleviation project concerning photovoltaic industry in the village, and our family is expected to increase the annual income of nearly thousand yuan." Jiao said.

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