China: Fenglan Zhao

One person's happiness is not happiness; the only happiness is happiness shared by all.

— Fenglan Zhao

During the collectivization era in China, Zhao Fenglan, director of the Women's Federation in her village and village party secretary, led the 2000 people of Dalizhunag toward self-reliance. Later, during the period of economic reform, she found creative and effective ways to solve community problems. She raised funds to build a school for village children, organized a women’s cultural troupe and established an association for the elderly. Her dedication has facilitated collaboration, harmony and progress in the village.

Located in the Yellow River flood zone, Lankao County of Henan Province has abominable natural conditions. During the collectivization era, Zhao Fenglan made the village among the most successful in the county in agricultural infrastructure development, foresting, grain production and industrial income. During economic reform, the village collective economy was in deficit and the village primary school became run down. Zhao persuaded her son, the manager of an enterprise, to collect funds. He raised 500,000 yuan from his friends and colleagues and with the support of the township government, a safe school building was built. In 2002, Zhao Fenglan organised the Dalixi Cultural Troupe. Not only has the troupe brought joy and enrichment to the lives of older people in the village, but it also has become well known throughout the region and formes the backbone of rural cultural rejuvenation. The troupe has been extensively covered by the Kaifeng Television Station, Lankao Television Station and several magazines. In 2003, Zhao founded the Dalixi Elderly Recreational Centre with three temple shrines for the elderly and established the first association for them in 2004. The mission of the association is "the elderly shall be cared for, the elderly shall be happy, the elderly shall be relevant". The association has had a positive impact on culture and recreation, conflict resolution, respect for the young and elderly, supporting those in need, and the creation of local handicrafts and literature. Zhao has worked hard to improve the lives of children, women and the elderly and has made a remarkable difference to rural development.

Association for the Elderly