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Eden Social Welfare Foundation

Boarder's side village successfully get rid of poverty! How?!

(Summary of 2019 International Conference on Developmental Social Work: Dialogue with Social Innovation)

How can a poor, border side, ethnic minority village develop their livelihoods and get rid of poverty? In the "2019 International Conference on Developmental Social Work: Dialogue with Social Innovation", Dr. Tak-Chuen Luk shared the actual experiences of community care model by helping the poverty alleviation of Daodong Village of Cangyuan County, Yunnan Province

Luk the presenter
How can a poor, border side, ethnic minority village develop their livelihoods and get rid of poverty?

Dr. Tak-Chuen Luk, Project Coordinator of the Yunus Social Business Centre @ CUHK, has devoted in "Developmental Social Work" for a decade. He has committed to applying developmental social work strategies to the poverty alleviation and development in rural minorities village, as well as services for children in dilemma, rural side development…and so on.

He mentioned that many people criticized social work for wasting money and lack of contribution to economic development, but "developmental social work" is an innovative thinking that transforms traditional social assistance directions into social investment strategies. In many developing countries, most social works are assisting in road maintenance, water supply, sanitation, employment… … etc. How to turn different small-scale basic construction work into empowerment has become an important point to poverty alleviation.

"The social worker is not a known-it-all. He cannot build roads by himself. He has to assist and improve local residents' capacity through this project. For example, how to communicate with the government? How to supervise the work? How to conduct financial supervision? All levels of engineer aspects are regarded as the process of empowering service target. Therefore, it is very important for social workers to play a good intermediate role when promoting developmental social work.

Dr. Tak-Chuen Luk takes the practical experience of his managerial "Yunnan Lianxin Community Care Service Center Commission" (referred as "Lianxin") in Daodong Village of Cangyuan County, Yunnan Province as an example. It’s a village in boarder line between China and Myanmar, that contain frontiers, ethnic minorities, and poverty all in this village. 90% of the villagers are Yi people, whom mainly rely on primary agriculture and the surrounding migrant workers for their livelihood. The average family income is low. Therefore, it is urgent to develop livelihoods to get local communities out of poverty.

Dr. Tak-Chuen Luk mention that, despite its economic weakness, Daodong Village still retains the culture of mutual assistance and respect for the elders, and the human interaction is very simple. However, due to the cultural impact of external materialism in recent years, villagers’ self-confidence needs to rebuilt. Actually, the village has many natural resources to develop tourism and sightseeing, which provides great opportunity to bring benefits to the village. In addition, the leader of Daodong Village show positive attitude, very motivated to change, and is willing to provide support, resources and venue.

in discussion
Dr. Luk explaining no doubt DSW model is a tough challenge for social workers

However, community management requires long-term cultivation, and in Daodong Village, basic services are provided in the community center, and found out the villagers who are willing to invest in organization and work for public affairs. Next steps, they use the school as a central base, and further establish a trust relationship with children and parents. By supporting services for children at risk, and providing support for distressed families, they integrate resources into the school and deepen the family to help the community build a safe and stable support system.

After established the foundation of mutual assistance and trust in the community, Lianxin further assisted villagers to think about the possibility of an industry to increase income. "It is very important to build a foundation of trust with the community. We first cooperate with each other before further discuss about economic development." Dr. Tak-Chuen Luk  emphasized that before starting industrial development, it is necessary to observe whether there are any force such as mutual motivation, poverty alleviation, and ecological protection in the community ... In order to introduce a developmental social work model.

Lianxin promotes the community's overall atmosphere and cohesion by carrying out small-scale water supply plans, providing student counselling, and organizing festivals. What’s more, they provide training courses to empower villagers with farming and animal skills. Once they had a professional foundation, they assisted the villagers to set up their own cooperatives.

aboriginal tribes
Cooperatives, villagers raise chickens, pigs, bees, grow corn and agaric fungus

In the cooperatives, villagers raise chickens, pigs, bees, grow corn and agaric fungus. Each industry established its own group, with supervisors in charge for management, guidance and supervision. A regional ecological industry began to form in 2015: corn can be used as feed for ecological breeding of chickens and pigs; and the feces of chickens and pigs are also the best crop ecological fertilizers.

By July 2017, 331 households in Daodong Village have already joined  by 264 village cooperatives. With the joint efforts of the villagers, Daodong Village was listed as one of the nine administrative villages for poverty alleviation in Cangyuan County in 2017. Dr. Tak-Chuen Luk mentioned that the successful experience of Daodong Village is based on the ethnic cultural strength of the Yi people. With the unity and cooperation of the villagers, Lianxin was able to promote organizational cultivation and community development through public services.

Border villages that were originally in poor are now successfully out of poverty and embraced a better future. Lianxin insists  using ethnic villages as the main body for development model, so that villagers can rebuild confidence and let their ethnic culture play an important role in poverty alleviation.