Mon, April 16, 2012
China > Mainland

New name, home for village

2012-04-16 03:02:42 GMT2012-04-16 11:02:42(Beijing Time)  China Daily

Children play on the grounds of a new orphanage school in Yushu, Qinghai province, on Thursday. The Lanzhou Military Area Command of the People's Liberation Army aided the construction of the school. [Yang Yanmin / China News Service]

Geleg Dargye still remembers the moment of utter desperation when staring at his ruined village after a devastating earthquake two years ago.

But the painful memories are now fading away as he and the other 825 residents of his village in the Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture, in Qinghai province, prepare to move into new homes in June.

Before the quake, the village was called Dongfeng, but its people agreed to change the name to Dage, which means "warrior" in the Tibetan language.

"People in the village are nothing short of warriors," Geleg Dargye said. "We were undaunted in the face of calamities. We survived and are moving toward a better life."

The new Dage is just part of the massive reconstruction project following the 7.1-magnitude quake that rocked Yushu on April 14, 2010, taking 2,698 lives and injuring over 12,000 people.

There will be showers and bathrooms in the new dwellings, which will be powered by solar energy and bio-gas, said Geleg Dargye, who is also Party chief of the village.

"We will be able to enjoy modern conveniences and live as urbanites do," he said.

Dage is the only village to be rebuilt using energy-saving technology in Gyegu district, which was hit worst by the quake.

Out of respect for Tibetans' religion, every house will have a Buddhist prayer room, according to Li Bo, a senior engineer with China Railway Construction Corp and head of the project.

The reconstruction of Dage started about six months after the quake, with a total investment of 50 million yuan ($7.95 million) from the government and public donations, according to Li.

Dage's rebuilding is one of the 843 projects launched in Yushu in the wake of the disaster.

More than 5 billion yuan has been allocated to relocate residents in Yushu, and most rural and some urban residents had moved into new homes by the end of November, said Kuang Yong, director of Qinghai province's housing and development department and head of reconstruction.

"The reconstruction will help improve the villagers' living conditions," said Geleg Dargye.

Traditionally, Tibetans have not been comfortable having a toilet in their homes. But outside toilets are inconvenient for the large number of elderly people in the village, many in poor health.

More than 200 Dage residents, about a quarter of the village's population, are senior citizens, so Geleg Dargye went to great lengths to talk villagers into having toilets built inside the new houses.

The reconstruction of Yushu also set out to give the stricken residents a means of earning a living. Efforts have been made over the past two years to boost eco-friendly animal husbandry, tourism and commerce in the autonomous prefecture, said Kuang. More than 1 billion yuan of government investment and public donations have been spent on supporting the local economy, he said.

Before the earthquake, locals made a living mainly by collecting and selling Chinese caterpillar fungus, a precious traditional medicine. Now, they grow vegetables in greenhouses, and breed cows, chickens and pigs. Some operate hotels or drive taxis.

Tashi, a villager who owns five greenhouses, makes 10,000 yuan a year from one alone.

"I am much better off than before," the 45-year-old said.

Technicians from the provincial institute of agricultural sciences also come to Dage to train villagers in farming.

"I never miss the training," Tashi said. "It has been really useful."

Moreover, Dage plans to make the best of its Tibetan folk culture to attract tourists. "More and more family inns will open in the village," Geleg Dargye said.

The per capita annual income in the village was around 2,000 yuan before the quake and is now 3,500 yuan. Dage's Party chief expects it will continue to rise, along with its farming and tourist credentials.

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