This post is part 1 of a 2 part series where we shine the spotlight on some of the Red Yao women of Longsheng. Each of the women you'll meet here plays an important role in our Beautiful Reason Initiatives (BRI) and inspires us with their natural beauty and lovely personalities!
As part of Viori's Social Responsibility team, we meet with these ladies monthly, and all of us have become more like family than business associates. We sit down together, drink tea, and have thoughtful chats about life— and of course, we discuss our shared vision, progress, and plans for BRI projects.
We lovingly refer to them as our "Aunties," and they call us "little sisters."
You might recognize some Aunties from recent social media posts. Our monthly visits provide us with great memories and incredible photos, which we love to share with you. But rest assured, all content we use anywhere has been Auntie-approved (and we always provide fair compensation).
So here they are, the lovely Red Yao women who play a massive role in making our BRI programs a success— hopefully, you'll be able to meet in person someday!
Village: Zongliu village, Longsheng
Growing up, Qiyun cared for her little brother and helped her parents with farmwork, leaving no time for school or formal studies.
Zhimei is married and has one daughter. She dreams of having a stable income to help her daughter finish school. But, overall, Zhimei says she is content with her life and happy that her family is able to live together.
Village: Dazhai village, Longsheng
About: BingYing loves chatting with people, which is, according to her, the reason she naturally smiles so much.
She and her husband married at 15 and became parents to a son and daughter shortly after.
BingYing runs a small grocery store right by the rice terraces, where people often buy necessities during peak tourist season. While she is quite happy in life, she says her biggest wish is for her son to get married.
Village: Zhongliu Village, Longsheng
About: Guoying loves sewing and learned at the age of 10. She remembers sewing as a child while herding the family cows. Her sewing skills also came in handy as her family had little money to buy clothing.
She was the oldest child in her family when her dad fell ill, and she took on the responsibility of helping her mother around the house— because of this, she missed her opportunity to attend school.
At 17, she married, and today she has four daughters. She says it makes her happy to see her daughters living much better lives than she experienced at their age.
About: Baoying is the proud mother of two daughters.
She started learning to sew at the age of 12 and weaving at the age of 20.
Her husband has been paralyzed for several years, which has increased her workload and responsibilities significantly.
As a result, Baoyin now only has time for simple farmwork and her embroidery.
She says she's grateful to be part of the BRI Embroidery Project, which provides her family with financial stability.
Pan WenyanName: Pan Wenyan
Village: Yujiazhai, Longsheng
About: Wenyan loves singing folk songs, sewing, and drinking a little of her homemade wine.
Wenyan married at 17 and has two daughters. Her husband is the only teacher at a primary school where he has 15 students (8 in first grade and 7 in kindergarten).
Wenyan's job is to cook lunch for those 15 students and a little teaching for the kindergarten class.
She dreams that her village will become more developed so everyone has a stable income.
Name: Pan Guizhen
Village: Jiangliu Village, Longsheng
About: Guizhen likes sewing, being with friends, and enjoying a bit of homemade wine in her spare time.
She lives in Wengliu, Jiangliu village, where her job is to care for her 5-year-old son.
There's no school in the village, so she spends a lot of time driving him to and from kindergarten.
She hopes people who receive her handmade embroidered ornaments truly love them.
Name: Pan Nengzhen
Village: Zhongliu Village
About: Nengzhen spends most of her time engaged in farmwork and running a guesthouse with her husband.
Sewing is one of her favorite activities. She learned to sew at the age of 12 and learned how to weave at 30.
Nengzhen has two children; a daughter and a son, and her husband is a teacher in town.
When reflecting on the BRI embroidery project, she hopes it goes well and lets people in western countries know more about Yao embroidery.
As Viori and our BRI projects grow, our friendships in Longsheng will continue to grow. The Red Yao women are our source of inspiration and an essential part of our social mission. We are committed to ensuring they get the recognition, credit, and celebration they deeply deserve.
Stay tuned for part two of this series, where we'll introduce you to more Aunties involved in our BRI projects.