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Volunteers help evacuees recover

2015-06-20
ChinaDaily zoom in +

NGOs provide support at settlement for people displaced by quake, who give butter tea in return.

Volunteers from the Tibet autonomous region and other parts of China have played a key role in providing assistance and support following the magnitude-7.9 earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25.

The quake affected Tibet, and more than 1,000 earthquake victims from there were housed in settlements in Xigaze, the region's second-biggest city, five days after the disaster.

"We provide hot water for the evacuees 24 hours a day, and every day they give us butter tea in appreciation," said Wang Jianguo, the leader of a team of volunteers in Xigaze. "It is really unforgettable. It was not just one day - every day we receive butter tea from the evacuees."

Wang, 38, was sent to the city by the Dishui Public Welfare NGO. He was born in Sichuan province, and his hometown was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2008. This is the third time he has volunteered for earthquake relief.

Wang said many Tibetan people like to drink tea early in the morning, so his team gets up at 6 am to boil water for them.

The team is based in a tent village at a settlement, and its 12 members come from four volunteer organizations across the country.

Though small, the team provides a range of services. The volunteers have set up an area that can be used as a basketball court, a soccer field or an activity space during the day, and as a dance floor and movie theater in the evening.

Wang, a welder, has made a seesaw and a swing for children.

"Thanks to those kind-hearted volunteers, we have hot water all the time and our kids have a nice place to play sports and watch movies," said evacuee Basang Tsering.

The team provides lessons for injured students and for children from 2 to 4 years old. Zhao Ning of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation said that drawing and storytelling classes and game sessions are run by four teachers in a kindergarten tent.

"At first I worked as a stevedore, and later I began to work as a kindergarten teacher," said Zhao. "The happiest thing for me is to be with kids all the time."

Volunteer Ji Jiajia from Anhui province has been working as a psychological counselor for several weeks.

In addition, he helps an injured 14-year-old girl make up for lessons she has missed. Her leg was broken by rocks that rolled down a mountainside during the quake.

"We had communication problems at first and she used body language sometimes, but as time goes on we are doing better," the 24-year-old said.

Several volunteers at the settlement said they were impressed by Sun Meng, a volunteer from Shandong province.

Sun has been teaching at Xigaze Primary School for a year as part of an aid program, and every day after class he cycles to the settlement to give a hand to students who need help.

The journey there and back takes an hour, but the volunteers say he never complains.

"It is my dream to work in Tibet and help the Tibetan people, and I do not want to waste a minute here," said Sun, 35. "Every time I see smiles on the evacuees' faces I feel happy."