Many residents of Lianhua Gongyu, a residential zone in Putuo, a district in Shanghai, have called Liang Huili, director of the zone's neighborhood committee and secretary of the zone's general Party (Communist Party of China) branch, "elder sister." Why? During the past 16 years, Liang has pooled the power of the committee's members to help residents both improve their livelihoods and solve the various difficulties in their lives.
Improving Living Conditions
At the end of 1999, leaders of the Party committee of Taopu, a town in Putuo District, told Liang they wanted to assign her to Lianhua Gongyu, to work as the secretary of the zone's general Party branch. The leaders also told Liang it was an arduous task to administer the faraway place. Without hesitation, Liang accepted the task.
As the resettlement projects progressed in several of Shanghai's districts, 2,836 residents moved to Lianhua Gongyu in 2000. Liang realized the zone's environment was dreadful, due mainly to many residents' lack of awareness about the importance of environmental protection. Garbage and weeds could be seen almost everywhere. However, as Liang and the zone's neighborhood committee's members led residents to improve the zone's environment during the past decade, Lianhua Gongyu evolved into a "garden-like residential zone."
Liang made great efforts to improve the zone's infrastructure during her first few years on the job. She led the committee's members to raise money to finance various projects, including the provision of gas, electricity and safe running water, and the establishment of bus routes and cable-television networks.
Under Liang's leadership, the zone during the past decade has been named both a National Harmonious Residential Zone and Shanghai's Civilized Residential Zone. The committee has also received accolades and special titles, including the National May 1st Women's Pacesetter Post and the National March 8th Red-banner Pacesetter Collective.
Given Liang's remarkable achievements, she has received many awards throughout the years, including being named March 8th Red-banner Pacesetter in Putuo District and one of China's Top 10 Leaders of Residential Zones.
Yet, despite all of her achievements, Liang keeps a low profile. "I merely did what I should do … I'm grateful to the committee's members, for their efforts to promote the zone's development," says Liang.
Liang during the past decade has put much effort into helping residents solve difficulties in their lives. "We (the committee's officials) should try our best to improve the zone's public services, to make it easier for residents to live here," says Liang.
In 2003, the zone took Liang's advice and built a healthcare center close to the committee's office building. The center opened at the end of that year. That meant the residents no longer had to travel a long distance to see a doctor. That was especially beneficial to the elderly. A short time later, Liang learned that regulations of Shanghai's public-health bureau permitted residents of a community (in the city) to receive basic health-insurance benefits only if they saw a doctor in a healthcare center that occupied more than 150 square meters. Within a short time, a part of the committee's office building was vacated to create space for the center's new wards and consultation rooms. In 2005, the new center opened. Now, the center accommodates dozens of residents, who seek medical advice from the doctors.
Liang in 2007 suggested Putuo's transportation department should improve the district's transportation system, so the zone's residents could more easily travel to Shanghai's downtown areas by bus. At that time, only the line for bus No. 768 linked the zone and downtown Shanghai. Liang made the proposal to improve the district's transportation system to the department several times. Eventually, the department replaced the small buses along the line with larger buses, so the vehicles could carry more passengers.
In 2011, the people responsible for managing the zone took Liang's advice, and they rebuilt a deserted building and opened a restaurant and a supermarket, so residents could more easily buy foods and daily necessities. Many elderly residents, especially those who live alone, are grateful to Liang, as they can now buy inexpensive, delicious foods from the restaurant. That saves them the trouble of cooking for themselves.
Many officials of neighborhood committees in the town's districts call Liang the "secretary who loves to make proposals (to higher authorities)." Why? Liang frequently speaks out to protect residents' rights and interests.
"We (the committee's officials) should try our best to help residents solve the difficulties in their lives. In so doing, we can gain the trust of the residents," says Liang.
She has a tight schedule, as she has to help residents resolve family disputes and/or solve various difficulties in their lives.
"Sometimes, when residents ask us (the committee's officials) to give them advice on thorny matters that are beyond our work duties, we try our best to help them," says Liang. "How can we stand idly by when the residents, who are as close as our relatives, are in trouble?"
Sometimes, when Liang travels through the zone on her bike, she occasionally stops to chat with residents, to gain a better understanding of their needs, and to learn about the various difficulties they face.
Liang's drawers (in her office) are like "treasure houses," in which she keeps various materials, including residents' deposit books and written agreements and wills. There is a touching story behind each item, and each story showcases the resident's trust in Liang.
An elderly woman, who was in her 90s, asked Liang to keep her deposit book. She told Liang she was afraid she might forget where she hid the book in her house, and she was reluctant to give the book to her adopted son. Liang asked two of the committee's officials to witness her acceptance of the book. Liang also asked the elderly woman to keep the book's password confidential. When the woman's niece, who lives in Beijing, learned about this, she sent, via express delivery, a letter of thanks to Liang, and a silk banner (as an award to her).
Liang has organized Party members (in the zone) to offer one-on-one assistance to elderly residents who live alone in the zone. The members often chat with the elderly, and they help them do their housework.
Liang invites the elderly residents to have dinner in the committee's office building every Chinese New Year's Eve. Many of the elderly have said they enjoyed eating foods cooked by Liang.
Zhu Kouzhang, a resident in the zone, will never forget Liang, whom he refers to as his lifesaver. Zhu lost contact with his family after he ran away from home in 2005. After Zhu had a heart attack in 2013, Liang promised the hospital's president she would provide financial assistance to cover Zhu's cost of medical treatments, and she asked the president to allow the doctors to perform surgery on Zhu immediately. Moved by Liang's sincerity, the president consented to her request. Fortunately, the operation was successful.
Liang visited Zhu every day. With Liang's help, Zhu was employed by the zone, as a security guard, after he recovered.
Many of the zone's residents have said Liang, who has treated them like they were her relatives, has always been ready to help them. As stories about Liang have spread far and wide, many Chinese have come to consider her to be a role model.
(Executive Editor:GU WENTONG, Women of China English Monthly October 2016 Issue)
|Join Us on Wechat
Search for WomenofChinaMag
Or scan this code with your phone
下载《Women of China》手机客户端，随时随地看《Women of China》杂志！
安卓手机扫描二维码，或在各大应用市场搜索“Women of China”,下载阅读Download Women of China Android App
苹果手机扫描二维码，或在苹果商店搜索“Women of China”,下载阅读Download Women of China Android App