Our Programme Foci
Sustainable Living Network
Where We Work: Yunnan

Let's go to see our relatives and friends! - A story about a village level community survey

Since we launched participatory action surveys on the community economy and the spirit of mutual help, villagers have asked what the survey means, why it needs to be done and what it is its purpose?

Action and reflection. That’s it. In the hands of our Miao friends, community surveys have become “an activity to visit relatives and friends.” They visit other villages and invite exchange and further visits between villages. They sit around the fire, listen to the sound of the lusheng and tell ancient stories through music and dance, which also enable sharing of traditional culture.

In some hill villages, much of the traditional songs and dances have been lost, but through visits between relatives and friends and by helping, teaching and learning from each other, villagers are able to renew their knowledge. When two villagers sing to each other, the male villager might fail to answer with a song. Disappointed, he throws up his hands and surrenders. He gives a bouquet of flowers to the female singer and says, “I will humbly seek your guidance in the future.” In this way, the hill village is filled with happy words and laughter and those who have taken part might quietly resolve to better learn their traditional practices.

Through frequent visits and discussion, villagers have been exploring the issue of mutual help and whether this still exists in their villages. They always discover new stories. In the process, they also form their own viewpoints.

“One should keep one’s culture inside one’s heart.” -- Story of the Sustainable Livelihood Forum

Through different forms of exchange activities, the Sustainable Livelihood Forum has been encouraging villagers to discuss the issue of sustainable livelihood. Villagers have expressed their views and ideas according to their own understanding. For example, they have talked about the relationship between human beings and the forest: “If the forest is well protected, we will be healthy. It’s like the rings of an iron chain. They are connected and cannot be separated.” Some villagers have talked about the issue of cultural transmission: “One should keep one’s culture inside one’s heart. What I hate to see most is to lose our own culture and then having to go out to learn…” Some villagers have other doubts: “The relationship between human beings might have become more harmonious, but is our relationship with nature harmonious? What will we give back to nature in return?” Villagers brought these questions back to their villages and this kind of discussion will continue…

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