Quake survivors look to recoup losses as foreign labor

2008-06-02 15:24:43 GMT       2008-06-02 23:24:43 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

CHENGDU, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Yang Xiaolian rose in her tent at 3 a.m. on Monday to prepare breakfast for her husband, who is leaving for Algeria to work.

"We will not see each other for two years, but we need money to rebuild our home," said Yang, cooking instant noodles outside the small tent amid the rubble in Lizhou Region of Guangyuan City, Sichuan Province.

The May 12 earthquake damaged Yang's house, leaving the five members of the family homeless.

At least 220,000 families are homeless after the quake, sheltering in donated tents.

Yang's husband, Zhang Bisheng, will leave Sichuan with 34 other people for the northwest African country after getting employment contracts arranged by the local government.

The labor authorities of Lizhou have been seeking job opportunities at home and abroad since the quake, believing the pay will be better abroad.

So far, the region has received job permits from a number of countries, including Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.

The government has promised to help the laborers assist their children go to school and the help elderly family members as well as agricultural production.

"I know the 9,000-yuan fares for buses and flights will be covered by my foreign employer," said Zhang, a former electrician. He passed a medical check and finished an outbound training course.

After the simple breakfast, Yang accompanied her husband to the departure site, where many other workers had gathered.

"Take care of yourself and don't worry about our family," she said, holding Zhang's hand tightly.

Zhang Qin, another worker, wiped tears from the face of his wife Liu Yonglan as he stepped aboard the bus.

"I'll try my best to earn more money for our new home," Zhang Qin said, trying to console Liu.

At least 400 Sichuan people have been working in Japan, Indonesia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Angola and elsewhere, said Yan Zhuolin, of Sichuan Provincial Administration of Commerce.

More than 2,000 Sichuan people had been working abroad before the quake, and 200 returned home after the disaster, but applied to go out again, saying they still want to earn money for a better life, said Yan.

The labor authorities were thinking of applying for subsidies from the central government to encourage labor service companies and local residents to work abroad, said Yan.

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