Electrician 'lights' up ethnic village

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Wei Chenggang, a member of the Communist Party of China, was born in 1973 into an ethnic Miao family in Tongxin Village, Guizhou Province in southwest China. His parents were both physically challenged and unable to do heavy work, so during Wei's childhood, the local government and local villagers assisted him greatly.

Wei Chenggang

Wei Chenggang

Due to this experience, Wei has always felt that he owes something to the village. When he grew up, no matter what job he did, he has never forgotten to help other people.

Wei's first job was farming at home. He dropped out of school to make ends meet at home one year before he was about to sit an examination to enter college. When he returned home, he bought many books on farming technologies, which helped him reap a bumper harvest that year. In 2000, he started using aquaponics, a system that combines raising aquatic animals and cultivating plants in water. This brought him an annual income of more than 100,000 yuan (US$15,320) and made him the richest person in the village.

But just being wealthy was not his dream. He established a library in the village, offering more than 300 books on farming technologies to villagers for free. He also gave lectures to villagers, teaching them techniques on aquaponics. With his help, many villagers became wealthier.

To recognize Wei's contribution, he was elected as a village official. And Wei didn't fail to live up to the expectations of the villagers. After taking office, he started to repair the only road connecting the village with the outside world. Due to the tight budget, he had to work more than 1,300 hours every year in his spare time with other villagers. He also started a water and soil conservation project by organizing villagers to plant trees on more than 33 hectares of bare land.

Wei might have kept working like this for the rest of his life, but a power cut changed his career path again. The power cut came unexpectedly and lasted for several days, causing great losses to villagers' aquaponics business. This made Wei realize how important the power supply was for agriculture and for the farmers.

In 2010, Wei gave up his job in the village and became a worker at the local power station. Since then, he has been responsible for the power supply to 1,300 households in eight villages. Every day, he patrols through the mountains to check the transformers, so as to ensure that even homes deep in the mountains are illuminated at night.

But being a good electrician is not enough for Wei. In 2015, he raised 68,000 yuan (US$10,417.6) to build a bridge over a river running through his village. In the past, villagers had to wade through the water to go out, which was very dangerous in rainy seasons. To start the project, Wei donated all his savings and borrowed a lot from his friends. But the construction was still short of money and halted halfway. Touched by Wei's actions, his friends and colleagues came to help him. They worked voluntarily every weekend to help build the bridge. In March, Wei's friends posted his stories online, and donations came to him from all over the country, which helped the project finally resume.

To the others, what Wei has done is extraordinary, but to Wei, they are nothing special. "The others have helped me, so I must do the same to them," he said.

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