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Community leaders in China give hope to the elderly

9 October 2019
The younger elderly care for the other elderly in Qionglai, Sichuan province of China

In Qionglai, Sichuan province of southwest China, elderly people are finding new ways to contribute to society, by joining local older person associations.From government officials, community leaders, teachers to businesspersons, older people are playing an important role in local associations. They are committee heads, counsellors and nurse service providers, rights defenders, and cultural, sports and education programme managers.

Wang Zhiquan is one of them. He is a businessman and the President of the Older Persons Association of Datang village.

Wang has a son, Xiaohong, working as a senior engineer in northwest China. Wang asked his son to purchase and remodel a local abandoned school into an environmentally friendly activity centre for the elderly, saving about USD140,000 for the association.

“I thank everyone for placing their trust and confidence in my capacity to lead the Older Persons Association. I must do my best and not disappoint them,” said Wang.

Wang has been a role model in the village. He mobilized more than 20 local businesspersons who work outside their home town to contribute to the association. Every year during traditional Chinese festivals, the association organizes fundraising activities and offers the elderly and charity givers with free catering services and cultural performances. It can earn an income of USD2,800 per year.

In Quanshui village, Tao Deping, the village party secretary, participated in the planning, site selection, baseline survey, data collection and analysis of local elderly activity centre. He led the Party’s all core members and volunteers of the older person association, to visit the vulnerable elderly on a regular basis, listening to their needs and providing them with basic care services.  

In Ranyi township, Zhou Jianhua, the Deputy Head of the Older Person Association, is promoting the implementation of national law on the protection of rights and interests of older persons. He is also helping resolve public disputes covering the elderly property, marriage, housing and maintenance, in line with the national law and local regulations.

In Qionglai, there are 96,000 volunteers like Wang, Tao, and Zhou serving in 298 local older person associations, accounting for 65 per cent of the elderly population living in the communities and villages.

While millions of Chinese rural young adults are migrating into big cities seeking better employment opportunities, Qionglai has found a creative way to fend for their elderly left behind.