Every month Viori's sustainability team visits Longsheng to spend time with our friends in the village and get an update on our local Beautiful Reason Initiatives. Below is a recap of the trip we made in December 2022.
Arriving in the village was a bit different this time. Prior to arrival, we had contacted some villagers to express our concern about the intensifying COVID situation in China and find out how things were going in the village. Understandably, the community seemed quite worried about letting in outsiders. Respecting their concern, we asked if it might be better for us to visit during more stable times. They assured us we would be greatly welcomed as usual, but we would need to provide a negative PCR test and prepare for a different vibe in the village (what that meant, we would find out later!).
Luckily all of us tested negative and soon departed Guilin city bound for Longsheng.
Arriving in the village, the weather was surprisingly mild for Longsheng's usually cold and wet winters.
Despite the mild weather, locals still held their tradition of sitting around the fire at home and tuning into the more quiet, still time of the year. Winter is a time when there is significantly less farmwork, and villagers busy themselves with preparing for the Chinese New Year.
A typical Chinese New Year tradition is preparing smoked pork for the entire family. The smoking of the meat usually happens above the main wooden stove and can last several weeks or months. It's definitely one of our favorite dishes when celebrating the new year!
For this trip, our plan was to visit each household, hand out gift bags, and express our gratitude for the connections we've made and the generosity they've shown in sharing their culture with us.
However, this was not possible as several villagers already had contracted COVID. Visiting each household could have potentially spread the virus around the village-- and obviously, that wasn't a good idea!
Despite the circumstances, villagers still wanted to see us and decided it would be safer to pick up the packages themselves at the local house where we were staying.
For safety reasons and following local requirements, we hosted the small event outside and made sure everyone wore masks. The carefulness and concerns among villagers about catching COVID made it apparent how isolated the villagers had lived during these years of the pandemic (whereas those living in more urban areas were starting to regard COVID as a kind of flu).
Since the start of the pandemic three years ago, Longsheng, an already isolated area, had been practically shut off from tourism and the outside world, either due to lockdowns or tourists who felt reluctant to travel. This resulted in Longsheng not seeing any (recorded) cases of covid for three years straight; until now.
The sudden change in policy and the spread of cases in areas around them, therefore, caught them off-guard and required some getting used to.
It was interesting being in the village during such a transitional time, and hopefully, it was a sign that soon Longsheng would be welcoming outside tourists once again.
The handing out of gift bags was a great pleasure. The gift bags included some of the all-natural rice we had grown with villagers, some healthy plant-based cooking oil, an umbrella, and 'red envelopes' for some who have helped us with local chores. Despite the small size of the gifts, the happiness among the locals was felt!
As this year is coming to an end, we look back joyfully at the collaboration with the Red Yao, and we look forward to another new year of BRI projects-- and hopefully more in-person meetings between the Red Yao and Viori. Especially between the Red Yao and Viori's team Utah who haven't been able to visit in 3 years!
Next month we'll be conducting a village survey where we will get direct feedback from the locals on our Beautiful Reason Initiatives and how we might improve how the BRI funds are spent.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to keep an eye out for the 2022 impact report coming soon!Wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday!