HOHHOT, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- The farthest place Quan Yanling has ever been to is a city 100 km away from her village, but the Christmas decorations she makes have been sold to countries thousands of miles away.
Quan, 51, a farmer in Hubo Village, Horqin Zuoyi Rear Banner, northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, joined a cooperative and started to make handicrafts in April.
She makes Christmas snow houses, Jack-o'-lanterns and polar bear toys that are exported to 10 countries including France, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, the United States and Russia.
"To my surprise, I can earn money from my hobby of making handicrafts," said Bai Yizhen, head of the cooperative.
Bai first started to make Christmas decorations in April 2017. "I made 200 Christmas snow houses and earned over 300 yuan from my first order, and I received a larger order of nearly 1,000 snow houses the second time," she said.
Seeing Bai's success, many women in the village came to her, and nearly 100 villagers joined her in making the handicrafts in just three months.
"More and more villagers joined me, but I myself alone found it difficult to manage the business with orders increasing. With help from the village's women association, we established a cooperative," she said.
Since the cooperative was established in July 2017, more than 800 women have participated, of which 80 households are recognized as living under the poverty line. Now, every member of the cooperative can earn from 1,000 to 3,000 yuan (145 to 435 U.S. dollars) a month.
"With sowing and reaping machines, we no longer have to work in the field as much as we did in the past. Simply sitting at home, I sometimes found it boring. However, life is now much more fun after I started to make handicrafts," said Yang Jinlan, 56, who joined the cooperative in April.
Yang is making twig decorations that will be exported to Switzerland.
"I've heard that they would decorate their houses with these twigs at Christmas. I'm wondering why they like trees so much in Switzerland," Yang said.
The cooperative received orders including 300,000 Christmas snow houses and 200,000 twig decorations for this Christmas season and will earn about 1.2 million yuan.
Quan Yanling family used to be living under the poverty line, but now, with income from making handicrafts, farming and raising cows, her family has risen out of poverty.
Her six-year-old grandson keeps her company when she makes handicrafts. "I want to make more handicrafts, earn more money and take my grandson abroad to visit the hometown of polar bears and reindeer someday," she said.