Embracing a new life together

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Restoring order

At a temporary resettlement camp in Yushu county, epicenter of the earthquake, lines of blue tents stretch across an area the size of about 10 football fields. The camp is home to more than tens of thousands of people left homeless by the disaster.

Residents here quietly queue in long lines to get relief goods, such as food and blankets.

In one of the queues was Buddhist lama Yishi Nyipo, 40. His family's house collapsed on April 14, killing three of his relatives and trapping him underneath mounds of rubble. He escaped with only a broken left arm after his 67-year-old mother dug him out.

Tse Tashi, 55 (second right) and his family enjoy breakfast with fellow earthquake survivors in Baizha village, Yushu county. “I want to survive but I also want others to survive,” said the father of three. [China Daily]

Tse Tashi, 55 (second right) and his family enjoy breakfast with fellow earthquake survivors in Baizha village, Yushu county. "I want to survive but I also want others to survive," said the father of three. [China Daily] 

"It was horrible. I didn't want to live after watching so many people die in front of me," he said. Yet after receiving help and comfort from fellow survivors, who gave him food and water, he said he realized he needed to stay strong to help other victims.

He now volunteers to wait for the goods handed out by relief agencies and, despite his broken arm, regularly helps to carry three packs of noodles, 48 bottles of water and 20 kg of flour back to his family's tent.

In outlying villages, cadres have also reported few problems with the distribution of aid.

Pug Tashi, head of Baizha village, keeps a written record of all the items given out and the names of recipients in a school textbook. However, he doesn't believe or fear that any of the residents would steal from their neighbor or falsely claim another family's rations.

"We have lived in a village for generations and we are familiar with each other. If someone grabbed supplies from others, they would not be able to live in our village. We would all look down on them," he said.

The first day after the earthquake, the village was in chaos, said Pug Tashi, who lost his sister in the disaster. Injured people were laid in the streets, while others cried in pain or wandered aimlessly.

"I didn't know what to do, but the next day the villagers all got together to discuss how to move forward," he said.

From Jiuzhi county, neighboring Yushu, a medical team arrived at one resettlement camp to find more than 150 people calmly queuing to receive treatment.

"They organized themselves according to the severity of their injuries, so that the survivor in the worse condition got priority," said Ye Zhen, director of the local health service department.

"Just after the earthquake happened, everything was in a state of chaos and everybody was panicking," said Luo Sai, a public security chief from neighboring Golog Tibet autonomous prefecture, who arrived in Yushu as part of a 40-strong police unit at 2 am on April 15. "When the first batch of relief supplies arrived, people were crashing into trucks to grab food and water."

However, after just 24 hours, the scene looked very different as village heads had organized residents to patiently queue for relief.

"We were all surprised," said Luo. "In the beginning, we were very worried the situation would get out of control. There were only 40 of us, so it would have been impossible to maintain order among thousands of people.

"Obviously, the local people know how to survive through teamwork. They know that if they do not help each other, no one will survive."

Tse Tashi agreed and added: "I will not try to rob supplies. I want to survive but I also want others to survive."

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