A poster for the documentary Homestay China
Homestay China, a three-episode documentary that focuses on China’s nine remote villages in eight provinces that have thrived under the targeted poverty alleviation program, has proven to be a big morale booster in helping local people shake off poverty and live better lives.
Co-produced by Youku, the Intercontinental Communication Center and National Geographic, each 45-minute episode follows three foreign hosts into three different villages where they stay with a local family to see, hear and record how poverty and misery are being obliterated from their lives.
Through the fresh lens offered by those foreign hosts, audiences can get to know how people in the once poverty-stricken areas are empowered to build a brighter future.
For example, the Miao women in Guizhou’s Ma’an village expand their family incomes by selling Miao embroideries they make in a local factory. The Nu ethnic group in Yunnan province is guided to grow herbal medicine, a new way to boost income.
However, the poverty-alleviation stories do not simply end with the completion of the documentary shoot. Behind the camera, Youku, one of the show’s producers, continues looking for new means to help the locals in the show earn more.
A still from the documentary Homestay China shows host Chris Bashinelli with rangers from the Changqing National Nature Reserve in Northwest China’s Shaanxi province.
Recently, it teamed up with the Alibaba-backed Alifish crowdfunding platform to launch a pilot poverty relief program, marketing the honey produced by the beekeepers in the Changqing National Nature Reserve in Northwest China’s Shaanxi province.
The story of the honey, given the brand name of Panda, is told in the documentary’s second episode where National Geographic host Chris Bashinelli meets ranger and beekeeper Peng Haibo, a resident in the reserve. The area is home to multiple rare animal species and nearly 20 percent of the world’s wild pandas.
Peng, who used to have to make ends meet by poaching in the nature reserve, has witnessed profound changes to his life in recent years. As the local government launched a scheme to target special financial aid to poor families like Peng’s in the area, Peng was trained by the nature reserve to become a ranger.
Going from poacher to protector, Peng relishes his new role, where he can capitalize on his rich knowledge of his birthplace and make a stable income.
He has also seen his income increase because an environmental charity has taught him to produce high-quality honey on a commercial scale.
With the slogan “by nature, for nature”, Peng and other local beekeepers have discovered the honey, branded Panda, commands a premium price across China.
The Panda honey produced at Changqing National Nature Reserve in Northwest China’s Shaanxi province is available on Taobao, China’s largest online market.