Wang Xiaoying's situation used to be so grim that she never dared follow the tradition of making a wish on Lunar New Year's Eve.
"I just didn't bother with any wish. I accepted the fact that my three kids, my husband, my elderly mother-in-law and myself would be stuck like this forever," said the 30-something farmer in the notoriously barren and poor Shuixian Village of south China's Hainan Province.
Three years ago, Wang spent all her savings treating a serious disease her husband got. He survived but can no longer work. It left a small rice paddy, a mud house and a broken TV as the family's sole possessions in an isolated hamlet with no Internet access or phone signal.
Now, as China enters the Year of the Monkey, Wang is daring to dream again. In 2015, the year the Chinese government announced grand plans to lift more than 70 million people out of poverty, Wang was one of 11,000 people in her area to get free training in farming and other skills.
Using her new knowledge, she has started keeping pigs and ducks, more profitable practices than growing rice. She is about to start growing trees, with the local government giving her free saplings as it helps scale up production of cash crops in Shuixian.
"There's hope in my life again. I want to pick up more skills this year and make enough money to build a new house for my family," said Wang.
YES, YES AND YES
On the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, 68-year-old head Han Yahaiya has a similar story.
Han's village in Xunhua County is nicknamed "a place of three nos" -- no meat in pots, no money in pockets and no roads on the land.
Farmer Han was raising a family of nine with an annual income of less than 5,000 yuan (761 U.S. dollars). Buns, noodles and other staples made of wheat were the only foods on their table.
While Wang was feeding her ducks and pigs on Hainan island, Han Yahaiya's family received local government loans of around 10,000 yuan.
With more crops and sheep, they have gradually shaken off poverty.
Meanwhile, Han's daughter-in-law earned over 10,000 yuan doing embroidery during last year's slack season.
Xunhua County employed craftsmen to teach ethnic embroidery techniques to local women, who can now earn 400 yuan for every item they make at home for nearby companies.
In recent times, Xunhua has also been linked to the road network.
Han Yahaiya prepared a traditional Salar ethnic family feast on the eve of Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year. "We have our wish of meat on table! Now I wish for more policies to help create a brighter future for all families in the village," he said.