Ti­betans af­fected by earth­quake learn to drive

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By PALDEN NY­IMA and DAQIONG in Xigaze, Ti­bet

Evac­uee Drolma Sherpa was about to pick up her two chil­dren from kinder­garten af­ter pre­par­ing lunch for the fam­ily, as her hus­band, Ny­ima Dorje, went out to prac­tice driv­ing.

They were among the 413 house­holds evac­u­ated to a set­tle­ment in the Ti­betan city of Xigaze af­ter the mag­ni­tude-7.9 earth­quake hit Nepal and bor­der ar­eas of Ti­bet on April 25.

“We do not have work to do in the set­tle­ment, and go­ing to a driver’s school near the camp is mean­ing­ful,” said Ny­ima Dorje.

The 35-year-old said he had long wished to learn how to drive.

“The gov­ern­ment paid the cost of learn­ing, and we were pro­vided the­ory and prac­tice cour­ses all day long,” he said.

The prac­tice area is next to the camp. With five in­struc­tors, the be­gin­ning driv­ers get the chance to prac­tice all day.

Tashi Norbu, chief of the Nyanang county hu­man re­sources and so­cial se­cu­rity bureau, said 254 peo­ple are tak­ing the free driv­ing train­ing course, with all the school fees be­ing paid by the gov­ern­ment.

“The gov­ern­ment is work­ing on find­ing jobs for the evac­uees next,” he said.

Ny­ima Dorje comes from Dam, a town­ship in Nyanang county that was se­verely hit by the April earth­quake. Be­fore the quake, Ny­ima and his wife ran a res­tau­rant, shop and street clean­ing ser­vice in Dam, Ti­bet’s big­gest bor­der cross­ing.

Ny­ima Dorje has ex­ten­sive busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence and has traded in goods be­tween Dam and Kathmandu for 15 years. He is also an ex­cel­lent in­ter­preter.

“I worked as an in­ter­preter for more than 10 years,” he said. “I speak English, Nepalese, Man­darin and Ti­betan.”

Re­cently, he read the Ti­betan-lan­guage ver­sion of driv­ing the­ory. He some­times has dif­fi­culty read­ing, so the gov­ern­ment pro­vided him with an au­dio ver­sion.

“My plan is to get a driver’s then buy a car,” he said.

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