Bring­ing Progress: new Bring­inghope to re­newed­poor­est peo­ple­hope to in Ti­bet’s harsh­est iso­lated en­vi­ron­ment­poor

Mea­sures Mea­sures areare un­der­way un­der­way to to boost boost the the liv­ing liv­ing stan­dards stan­dards of of peo­ple peo­plein thein the re­gion’s re­gion’s harsh­est iso­lated ar­eas. ar­eas

China Daily (Canada) - - TI­BET - ByXU WEI and DAQIONG in Lhasa and Ny­ingchi, Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion

Like Sonam Ten­zin, most of those badly af­fected by poverty live Son­amin the Ten­zin re­gion’s has mar­gins,a clear un­der­stand­ingchal­lenged by of the what harsh mod­ern nat­u­ral ma­te­rial en­vi­ron­men­twealth and would an un­der­de­vel­ope­d­mean to him: treat­ment trans­porta­tio­nand med­i­ca­tion in­fras­truc­ture­for his el­derly,that makes dis­abled trav­el­ing mother, dif­fi­cult.and his aunt and un­cle; money Ny­ima,to pay deputy­his mort­gage;head of and the a Ny­ingchide­cent ed­u­ca­tionof­fice for pover­ty­for his two al­le­vi­a­tion, sons. said iso­la­tion is one of the How­ever,main prob­lem­sSonam lives­for thein Ny­ingchi,re­gion’s pooresta pre­fec­ture-lev­elin­hab­i­tants. city “Somein the poverty-strick­en­peo­ple live on area high around moun­tain­s­the Yar­lun­gand oth­ers Zang­boin deep­River val­leys basin, that where are mak­ing­too har­sha liv­ing to has pro­vide never beena de­cent easy. life. Many have Most long res­i­dents­been trou­bledof this im­pov­er­ishedby ill­ness or area dis­abil­ity,”in the south­eas­the said, addin­gof the Ti­bet that­mu­chof au­tonomous­the re­main­ingre­gion live pover­tyon the in­Ny­ingchi,mea­ger crops which they has growa pop­u­la­tionon the sparseof about farm­land 250,000, and cen­ters earn­ing­son from house­holds­selling mat­su­take that lack able-bod­ied mush­rooms work­ers.they pick in nearby How­ever, forests. there are many

cas­esThe 27-year-oldin which vil­lager­sTi­betan is don’tsep­a­rated try hard from enough­his wife, to so he chan­gesin­gle-hand­edly their lives, ac­cord­ing sup­ports toNy­ima,his sons and who his like three many ag­ing Ti­betans rel­a­tives. uses just “We one are name.just get­ting by. Af­ter all, “WeI have have to been man­age try­ing all to set the a fi­nan­cial­good ex­am­pleins and and outs in­tro­duce­my­self,” he them said. to good pro­grams, but

those Last year, with the the fam­ily’s ini­tia­tive sit­u­a­tion to im­prove went their from own bad livesto worse have when prob­a­bly their al­ready­house was done severelyso,” he dam­aged­said. by fire. De­spite help from a sup­port fund es­tab­lished by the re­gional gov­ern­ment, Sonam The had re­gion­alto take gov­ern­mentout a bank loan has of set 60,000the goal yuan of ($8,690) erad­i­cat­ingto re­pair poverty the by build­ing. 2020. Dur­ing the next Author­i­ties­five years, it es­ti­mateplans to in­vest­that 590,00018 bil­lion peo­ple yuan — ($2.5 about bil­lion)20 per­cent in 1,216 of Ti­bet’s de­vel­op­ment pop­u­la­tion pro­grams,— still live most be­lowof whichthe gov­ern­ment’sare de­signed des­ig­nated to pro­vide an­nual em­ploy­ment poverty op­por­tu­ni­ti­esthresh­old of 2,300for the yuan less in dis­pos­ablewell-off or in­come. helpthemto es­tab­lish co­op­er­a­tives. Like Sonam Ten­zin, most of those Mean­while,badly af­fect­edthe by au­thor­i­tiespoverty live will in movethe re­gion’s about mar­gins, 236,000 chal­lenged im­pov­er­ishedby the harsh peo­ple nat­u­ral into en­vi­ron­ment re­set­tle­ment and projects,an un­der­de­vel­ope­dand a loan of trans­porta­tion­more than 38 in­fras­truc­ture bil­lion yuan has that been makes ob­tained trav­el­ing to dif­fi­cult. fi­nance the pro­cess.

Ny­ima,The new deputy dwelling­shead of havethe Ny­ingchibeen well-re­ceived­of­fice for by­many poverty vil­lagers. al­le­vi­a­tion,In Lhasa’ssaid iso­la­tionQuxu county,is one of the the lo­cal main au­thor­i­ties prob­lems have for re­lo­cat­edthe re­gion’s 172house­hold­stoSany­oupoor­est in­hab­i­tants. vil­lage, “Some where peo­ple they live live on in high newly moun­tains­built two-sto­ryand oth­ers hous­esin deep that val­leyswere that fully are too fur­nished­harsh to pro­vide long be­forea de­cent­the oc­cu­pantslife. Many ar­rived. have long Dashon,been trou­bleda 52-year-oldby ill­ness res­i­dent,or dis­abil­ity,” said he that said, in addingthe past that she muc­hand herof the fam­ily re­main­ing­had to poverty shel­ter in in Ny­ingchi,a neigh­bor’s which house has when­ev­era pop­u­la­tion it rained.of about 250,000, cen­ters on “Our house­hold­shouse couldthat lack have able­bod­ied col­lapsed work­ any minute, and we of­ten How­ever, feared there­for our are safety,” many she cases said. in which vil­lagers don’t try Son­amhard enough Dekyi, to a change gov­ern­ment­their lives, of­fi­cial ac­cordingin Sanyou,to Ny­ima,said vil­lager­swho like manyvote Ti­betansto de­ter­mineuses just whichone name. fam­i­lies will be al­lowed to move “We into have the been­new set­tle­ment.try­ing to set “Wea good con­stant­lyex­am­ple and re­mind­in­tro­duce them them that mov­ingto good here pro­grams,is the but start thoseof their with newthe ini­tia­tive­lives. Theyto im­proveshould not their be own sat­is­fiedlives have with prob­a­blythe sta­tus al­readyquo,” she done said. so,” he said. In the com­ing five years, the re­gional au­thor­i­ties will also Devel­op­ment­pro­vide part-time goal­sjobs, such as forestThe re­gional ranger gov­ern­ment­posts, has for set 500,000the goal peo­ple.of erad­i­cat­ing poverty Lu by Huadong,2020. Dur­ing deputy the head­next fiveof the years, Ti­bet it pover­ty­plans to al­le­vi­a­tion­in­vest 18 bil­lion of­fice, yuan said ($2.5 the bil­lion) gov­ern­mentin 1,216 de­vel­op­men­thas now en­tered pro­grams,the per­sonal­most of which de­tails are of de­signed 590,000 to of­fi­cial­lypro­vide em­ploy­ment­des­ig­nated op­por­tu­ni­ties poverty-strick­en­for the peo­ple­less well-of­fin its ar­chives.or help them to es­tab­lish “We­have co­op­er­a­tives. iden­ti­fied 11 dif­fer­ent Mean­while,fac­tors that the help au­thor­i­tiesto ex­plain will why move these about peo­ple 236,000live in im­pov­er­ished poverty, and peo­ple dif­fer­ent into mea­sures re­set­tle­ment will projects,be adopted and fora loan dif­fer­entof more peo­ple than and38 bil­lion dif­fer­ent yuan house­hold­shas been ob­tainedto help liftto fi­nancethem out the of pro­cess. poverty,” The he new said. dwellings have been well-re­ceivedPenpa, a by 48-year-old­many vil­lagers. res­i­dent In Lhasa’sof Quxu Bayi county, town­shipthe lo­cal in au­thor­i­tiesNy­ingchi, de­scribed­have re­lo­cated him­self 172 as house­holds­be­ing “weak to as Sany­oua hen” vil­lage,af­ter a where long-term they live stom­achin newly ail­ment.built two-sto­ryHe spends houses about that 10,000 were yuan­fully fur­nishe­don med­i­cal long bills be­fore ev­ery­the oc­cu­pants year, and has ar­rived.a 70,000 yuan mort­gage Dashon, af­ter a build­ing 52-year-olda res­i­dent, new house saidin that 2014 in to the re­pla­cepast she the and wood her cabin fam­i­lyhe shared­had to with shel­ter his in wife.a neigh­bor’s house when­ever it rained. How­ever, be­cause he chose pri­vate“Our house clin­ics coul­dover pub­lichave hos­pi­talscol­lapsed heat any has waived minute, his and rightwe of­tento claim feared med­i­cal­for our in­sur­,” she said. With the help of the au­thor­i­ties, Sonam Penpa Dekyi,and eighta gov­ern­men­tother vil­lagers of­fi­cial in set Sanyou,up a co­op­er­a­tive­said vil­lagers to vote raise to Ti­betan de­ter­mine chick­ens.which fam­i­lies will “We’rebe al­lowed des­per­ate­lyto move poor,into the but newI def­i­nitely set­tle­ment. don’t want to stay this “We way,” con­stant­lyhe said. re­mind them that Mean­while,mov­ing here in is Son­amthe start Ten­zin’sof their new vil­lage, lives. the They lo­cal should au­thor­i­ties­not be sat­is­fied­have with helped the sta­tus11 pover­tys­trick­en­quo,” she said. house­holds to es­tab­lishIn the cominga co­op­er­a­tive­five years,to raisethe re­gion­alpigs. au­thor­i­ties will also provideHe said­he­could­have­madea­part-time jobs, such as for­est much ranger larger posts, in­come for if 500,000he had peo­ple. mi­grated to an ur­ban area in searchLu Huadong, ofem­ploy­men­top­por­tu­ni­ties.“ButIhavepeo­ple­todeputy head of the Ti­bet poverty al­le­vi­a­tion take of­fice,care of. said Whatthe gov­ern­men­tif they got sick­has now while en­teredI was ab­sent?”the per­son­alhe said. de­tails of 590,000 In­stead, of­fi­cial­lyhe has been des­ig­nated of­fered poverty-strick­ena job as a for­est ranger, peo­ple whichin its ar­chives.will guar­an­tee an an­nual in­come“We haveof about iden­ti­fied 3,00011 dif­fer­ent yuan. He fac­tor­salso has thatan oc­ca­sion­al­help to ex­plain part­time why the­se­job peo­pleas a taxi live in driver poverty, for and tourists dif­fer­ent bound mea­sures­for the Yar­lung­will be adopted Zangbo for River. dif­fer­ent peo­ple and dif­fer­ent How­ever, house­holds Sonam to help Ten­zin­lift them­said outhe of still poverty,”fears thehe said. worse­case Penpa, sce­nario:a 48-year-oldThat a res­i­dent rel­a­tive of will Bay­ibe hit town­shipby a se­ri­ousin Ny­ingchi, ill­ness de­scribedand the med­i­cal him­self bills as will be­ing be “weak be­yond as hisa hen” means. af­ter a long-term stom­ach“I don’t ail­ment.think any­oneHe spends would about­lend me 10,000 any yuan money. on It med­i­cal would billsbe nat­u­ralev­ery year, for and them has toa 70,000 doubt yuanmy abil­ity mort­gageto re­pay af­ter them,” build­ing he a said. new house in 2014 to re­place the wood cabin he shared with his wife.

How­ever,The real chal­lenge­be­cause he for chose the pri­vate au­thor­i­ties clin­ic­sin over their pub­lic poverty-al­le­vi­a­tion­hos­pi­tals he has ef­forts waivedlies in his work­ingright to claimout how med­i­cal poor in­sur­ance. house­holds can be With helped the tomake­help of a the liv­ing au­thor­i­ties, with­out gov­ern­men­tPenpa and eight as­sis­tance. other vil­lagers Ny­ima,set up the a of­fi­cial, co­op­er­a­tive voicedto raise con­cerns Ti­betan about chick­ens.the po­ten­tial side “We’re ef­fects des­per­ate­lyof pro­vid­ing poor, poverty-strick­en­but I def­i­nitely don’t fam­i­lieswant to with stay freethis way,” re­set­tle­ment.he said.

Mean­while,“The gov­ern­mentin Sonam def­i­nite­lyTen­zin’s has vil­lage,good in­ten­tions.the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties De­spite have that, helped peo­ple 11 who poverty-strick­en­have man­aged house­hold­sto breakto es­tab­lishout of povertya co­op­er­a­tive through to raise their pigs. own ef­forts mightHe said think he that could some have oth­ers­made a did much noth­ing larger but in­co­mestill man­agedif he had mi­grat­edto move to into an spa­ciousurban area newin search homes of and em­ploy­men­twill sim­ply op­por­tu­ni­ties. ac­cept an­other “But sub­sidyI haveat the peo­ple end to of takethe year,” care he of. said. What if they got sick “Some while I peo­ple­was ab­sent?”just do he noth­ing­said. In­stead,and thinkhe has the been gov­ern­mentof­fered a job will as takea for­est care ranger,of them, which any­way,”will guar­an­teehe an­nual “Stop­ping in­come theof about re­set­tle­ment3,000 yuan. pro­ject­sHe also has fro­man oc­ca­sion­al­turn­ing into part-times­lums is job at as thea taxi top driverof our for agenda.” tourists bound for the Yar­lungIn one Zangbo re­set­tle­men­tRiver. project in How­ever,an ur­ban Sona­marea of Ten­zin Ny­ingchi,said he the still au­thor­i­ties­fears the worse-case­have set sce­nario: an en­try con­di­tionThat a rel­a­tivethat re­quireswill be hit poor by house­holdsa se­ri­ous ill­nessto have­and the at med­i­cal­least one bills per­son­will be work­ing­be­yond his in means.the area be­fore they are al­lowed“I don’t to think move any­onein. Mi­grantswould lendare al­some any al­lowed money. to It keep would thebe nat­u­ral farm­land for themthey to have doubt leftmy abil­ity be­hind. to re­pay them,” he said.

The De­spite real his chal­lenge ex­cel­lent for aca­demic­the au­thor­i­ties per­for­mance,in their the povertyal­le­vi­a­tion need to sup­port ef­fortshis fam­i­lylies in forced­work­ing Sonam out how Ten­zin poor to house­holds­drop out can be­forebe he helped fin­ishedto make high a school.liv­ing with­outNow, his gov­ern­ment­dear­est wish as­sis­ that his “The chil­dren gov­ern­men­twill re­ceiveane­d­u­ca­tion­def­i­nitely has good good in­ten­tions.enough De­spiteto help that, them peo­ple­live up whoto their have po­ten­tial. man­aged to break “Ev­ery out timeof I poverty am­in­vited throughto a their gath­eringown ef­fort­sof my might ju­nior think high that school some class­mates,oth­ers did I noth­ing al­ways but refuse. still We man­aged­were veryto move close, into but spa­cious­now we new live homesvery dif­ferentand will sim­plylives,” he ac­cept said. an­other sub­sidy at “I the just end hope­myof the year,” chil­dren Ny­ima will said.not be in the same po­si­tion as me “Somein the peo­ple fu­ture.” just do noth­ing and think the gov­ern­ment will take Con­tact care the of writ­er­s­them, any­way,” through he added. xuwei@chi­“Stop­ping the re­set­tle­ment projects from turn­ing into slums is at the top of our agenda.”


Con­tact the writ­ers through xuwei@chi­

The grow­ing in­ter­est in Ti­betan Bud­dhism among Han Chi­nese has pre­sented a unique busi­ness op­por­tu­nity for Dawa Phuntsok, who is the ma­jor share­holder in a fac­tory that makes Ti­betan in­cense in Ny­ingchi, a pre­fec­turecity in the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

Rev­enue at the fac­tory, which be­gan op­er­a­tions in June, has al­ready hit 70,000 yuan ($10,000) thanks to boom­ing sales among lo­cals and via on­line mar­ket­places.

“We are ex­pect­ing more rev­enue from our on­line chan­nels, and we have re­ceived lots of pos­i­tive feed­back from clients in Guang­dong and Fu­jian prov­inces,” Dawa said.

In Ti­betan medicine, in­cense is a rec­og­nized treat­ment for a num­ber of ill­nesses and as a ster­il­iz­ing agent it can also be used as an an­tibi­otic. Its use is also in­te­gral to Ti­betan Bud­dhist rit­u­als.

Dawa, a for­mer lum­ber­jack, started from scratch 10 years ago when he set up a busi­ness that sup­plied gravel to con­struc­tion com­pa­nies. When busi­ness dried up, he be­gan look­ing for his next ven­ture, and he found in­spi­ra­tion at home.

“I dis­cov­ered a recipe for Ti­betan in­cense that had been left by my grand­fa­ther. I only saw him mak­ing in­cense when I was a child, but I de­cided to try the recipe my­self,” the 40-year-old said.

His ex­per­i­ment was suc­cess­ful, and he de­cided to set up a busi­ness mak­ing in­cense sticks.

Ny­ingchi’s wealth

It’s im­pos­si­ble for the poverty-re­lief ef­forts to reach ev­ery­body, so peo­ple need to stand on their own two feet.”

of eco­log­i­cal re­sources pro­vides Dawa with a rich sup­ply of medic­i­nal herbs, which are im­por­tant in­gre­di­ents in Ti­betan in­cense.

He set up the fac­tory, lo­cated in a vil­lage near a na­tional high­way, as a joint ven­ture with 10 fel­low vil­lagers and ob­tained a loan of about 1 mil­lion yuan through the re­gional gov­ern­ment’s poverty-re­lief pro­gram. The fac­tory em­ploys four peo­ple from des­ig­nated poverty-stricken house­holds, who earn 1,000 yuan for seven days’ work ev­ery month.

Dawa hopes that as the busi­ness ex­pands, the work­ers will gain skills that will even­tu­ally al­low them to sup­port them­selves.

“It’s im­pos­si­ble for the poverty-re­lief ef­forts to reach ev­ery­body, so peo­ple need to stand on theirowntwo feet. I just hope they can learn about the im­por­tance of be­ing open-minded and tak­ing the ini­tia­tive to im­prove their lives,” he said.


Farm­ers plow be­fore sow­ing their crops near a wild peach wood in Ny­ingchi, a pre­fec­ture-level city in the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion, in April. Ev­ery spring, thou­sands of tourists de­scend on the city to view the blos­soms, pro­vid­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal res­i­dents.

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