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Poverty Alleviation Awards Highlight Nation's Efforts
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Wang Guangmei, widow of China's former president Liu Shaoqi, has been nominated for a special personal achievement award because of her extraordinary efforts to fight poverty.


She was among 19 candidates nominated yesterday in Beijing for the second China Poverty Eradication Awards. This is a biannual scheme rewarding individuals or organizations who make significant contributions to poverty alleviation.


The 19 nominees slot into 10 categories including special personal achievement, innovation, volunteers, donations, self-struggle and dedication.


In 1995 Wang auctioned six antiques left to her by her mother raising 566,000 yuan (US$70,750). She initiated "Project Happiness" which is aimed at improving the lives of poor mothers nationwide.


Through 11 years of constant efforts, nearly 700,000 poor people from 154,000 households have benefited from this project's 389 programs around the country.


Wang, 85, became the only candidate in her category as another nominee Xu Yongguang, founder of Project Hope, which aims to help poor students, withdrew after learning of Wang's nomination.


The Amity Foundation and a farming association in Yongji, Shanxi Province, were named in the organization category.


"By promoting experiences and touching stories in poverty reduction we hope to motivate more people from all walks of life to join poverty alleviation work in China," said Wang Hangzui, secretary-general of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA).


The 10 winners, one for each category, will be announced on October 17, which is International Day for Poverty Eradication, after voting by a 23-member judge panel.


"Each candidate may have their unique mode and conditions, but the way of thinking, the strong sense of getting away from poverty is worth promoting," said Kang Xiaoguang, professor of the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development of Renmin University, who is also chairman of the judging panel.


"Rather than simply being moved, we hope more people will take action to help the poor," said Xie Hailong, a volunteer photographer who has devoted the past decade to documenting rural education. "The money saved from forgoing a pack of cigarettes or a sauna can raise a child from illiteracy," commented Xie.


Since large-scale poverty alleviation work got underway in 1986, the number of poor people in the country was reduced to less than 24 million by the end of 2005 from the 125 million in 1985, according to sources with the CFPA.


(China Daily September 25, 2006)

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