Hong Yao Spring Bud girl dedicated to helping others prosper
"My wish is to lead the women in the village to live better lives with their own hands!" said Feng Wangmei, an ethnic Hong Yao girl and an entrepreneur in Baiyun township in Rongshui Miao autonomous county, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Hong Yao is a branch of the Yao ethnic group.
As a graduate of the country's first Spring Bud Girls' class, Feng rooted her dreams in her hometown and after years of hard work she started her business there. With an annual revenue of nearly 800,000 yuan, her business has helped more than 70 local peasant families increase their incomes. Speaking about what she has today, she is deeply grateful to the Spring Bud Project.
Feng Wangmei takes a photo at her mushroom base on March 21, 2022. (CCTF)
Feng was born in a farmer's family in Yaokou village, Baiyun township of Rongshui Miao autonomous county. Located in the mountains, Rongshui was once a national-level poverty-stricken county. Feng’s parents, as farmers, had a meager income and life was hard for the family.
The idea that girls should not study was prevalent in Baiyun, so a lot of girls lost their opportunity to go to school. Feng was no exception. Still, she had been farming with her parents since she was very young, although she had always dreamed of going to school.
China’s first Spring Bud Girls class was established in Baiyun township in September 1988. The Spring Bud Project, which covers the whole country today, had begun. As a preliminary public welfare exploration of the All-China Women's Federation and the China Children and Teenagers’ Fund, it is to help out-of-school girls in poor ethnic minority areas return to school.
"The village leaders went from house to house encouraging parents to allow their daughters to receive an education. I luckily managed to sign up and I knew at that my dream was going to come true!" recalled Feng.
Feng Wangmei (third from left) gives other women training in mushroom cultivation at her mushroom base on March 21, 2022. (CCTF)
The Spring Bud Project provided the girls subsidies for tuition and other expenditures. As the youngest in her class, Feng appreciated the assistance she received from the project, and studied hard. Baiyun township is home to various ethnic groups. In the beginning, Feng could not understand some of her classmates due to their different languages, but later they learned Mandarin and became good friends.
"Going to school was the happiest part of my life every day at that time!" Feng said.
To date, more than 500 girls in Rongshui county have been enrolled in schools. They keep carrying forward the Spring Bud spirit of unremitting self-improvement, striving for excellence, developing stronger virtues and pursuing a better life while managing to contribute to all parts of society. The outdated local "women don't read" concept is gradually disappearing, and the idea that girls should not study has disappeared as well.
Feng Wangmei (first from left) explains ganoderma lucidum planting to county and township officials on July 7, 2022. (CCTF)
After graduating from junior high school, Feng decided to work while studying. Using online resources, she started to learn mushroom cultivation technology and later decided to return to her hometown to start a business.
"I have encountered many difficulties in the past few years, and I always encourage myself to face them bravely to overcome them," said Feng.
In 2005, incessant downpours triggered a landslide in Baiyun and during a single night destroyed the new factory Feng had built at the foot of the mountain.
Heavy pressure fell on her shoulders, but the unyielding spirit inspired her to start again. With the help of her parents and friends, she managed to build a new factory in 2006.
After several attempts, Feng set her sights on the ganoderma lucidum planting industry in which it is comparatively easier to make a handsome profit.
Feng Wangmei (second from left) plants ganoderma lucidum with her colleagues on the mountain, on July 7, 2022. (CCTF)
In 2012, about 20 mu of Feng’s ganoderma lucidum was harvested, becoming her first bucket of gold.
Later, she and her husband set up the Baiyun Town Xiaokun Edible Fungus Cultivation Cooperative in 2014 and the Rongshui Youye Agricultural Technology Cooperation in 2021, both of which are now undergoing expanded construction with a total expected annual output of 200,000 sticks of fungi after completion.
The Spring Bud Project gave Feng the opportunity to gain knowledge, and gratitude for that remained in her heart. She decided to give back to society and help more people in need.
There are many stay-at-home women with meager income in Rongshui. Since 2009, Feng began to invite them to plant ganoderma lucidum to increase their income and improve their lives. To date, she has helped 78 families.
She goes to many places to learn new knowledge and technology of fungus stick cultivation. She also invites experts and scholars to give lectures and training to the farmers and to teach them online selling.
Feng is influencing more and more local women, inspiring them to create a better life with their own hands.
The season of ganoderma stick cultivation and planting is arriving once again. Feng and her colleagues are busy working in the fields. She hopes they will have a good harvest this year.