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Snapshots of Xinjiang migrant workers
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In a vocational school in the county seat of Jiashi, Xinjiang in China's far west, 60 Uygur women dressed in camouflage received military training on Wednesday, which is one of the school's courses to teach students' discipline.

The students will soon join in the army of migrant workers heading to China's coastal east.

Rebiya Aierken, one of the girls -- all near their 20s, -- said she has been recruited by a clothing factory in east China's Ningbo City.

"The school offers job information and training. I had a year of clothing factory experience in Beijing last year. I want to try a new place this year, and I chose the job in Ningbo. My sister said she would join me after finishing her study here," she said.

"No fee is charged for people who want to take courses here," said a school principal, "We have courses teaching sewing, knitting, electric welding, woodwork and building."

"The regional government spent 300 million to 400 million yuan a year to provide the free training courses to help the migrant workers from Xinjiang get accustomed to city jobs," said Nur Bekri, chairman of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region government, earlier this month.

The boom of Xinjiang's migrant workers going for city jobs has not been dampened by the factory riot in Shaoguan City, south China's Guangdong Province on June 26, in which two Uygur employees were killed and more than 100 were injured.

Police have said the riot was caused by a post on a local Web site saying "Six Xinjiang boys raped two innocent girls at the Xuri Toy Factory." The rumormonger had been detained by police.

Rezimangu, a Uygur woman in her 20s, was among 1.87 million rural laborers that left the farmlands of Xinjiang for city jobs last year.

She felt herself different, after finishing the labor contract in Tianjin Municipality in eastern coast and returning to her home in Jiashi County in Kashi Prefecture of Xinjiang.

"There isn't too much farm work at home, and I used to stay idle. I now want to be a work woman and I can't bear to stay idle at home anymore," she said.

The farmer's daughter felt her vision opened up after working as a textile factory worker in Tianjin, which earned her 8,000 yuan last year.

Immediately after she returned home in June, she found a job in a local dishware cleaning factory.

Her friend Shareguli is her role model. The 22-year old woman has had two years of migrant work experiences in east China's Ningbo City, which saved her enough money to open two groceries when she returned home.

"My work experiences made me financially able and ambitious to run my own business. I owe a lot of thanks to my friends in Ningbo. I would take flight to visit my boss in Ningbo, who taught me a lot," said Shareguli, holding her baby boy in one arm while greeting customers.

Jiashi county, a predominately Uygur region in the southern part of Xinjiang, started to organize laid-off rural laborers to work in cities in 2006.

"Few of the ethnic workers can speak or read mandarin. They have trouble communicating with people," said Wureguli, a team leader of migrant workers to Ningbo for two years.

As a civil servant in the county government, she can speak fluent mandarin.

"During my two years in Ningbo, I helped the migrant workers translate the language, took them to the hospital when they got ill, and settled disputes when they had misunderstandings with local people," she said.

She said she is happy to see her countrymen learn work skills and gain interesting life experiences to see "the world is changing fast."

"The county government has been gradually improving the service work for migrant workers. In addition to dispatching civil servants, and even local cooks to go with them, we are offering work skill training and justice assistance to the workers to help them get accustomed to culturally different city life," said Aierken Dawuti, a labor official with the county government in Shule, not far from Jiashi.

"As people brought their earnings back home, they bring back with them work experience and changes in lifestyle, which would have a far-reaching impact to the social and economic development in here Shule," he said.

Aihaiti Shayiti, county head of Shufu, another county in Kashi, said many of the women migrant workers from the county go with their husbands for city jobs.

"Among 775 people from Shufu to work in Shaoguan City, one-third of them are women. And there are 79 couples," he said.

Aimaiti Tuerti, a local farmer sent two of his daughters to do migrant work in east China's Qingdao City.

"The elder one ignored my warning against jumping on the bandwagon to go east in 2007. A year later, she came back safe and happy. My younger one went with her to Qingdao last year," said the old man, now content to see his daughters earning more than 10,000 yuan a year.

According to local officials in Shufu, the average per-capita yearly income in the agricultural county is 2,500 yuan (366 U.S. dollars), which is about two months salary for a migrant worker.

"They went in groups, and team leaders from the government to take care of them. I am not so worried now," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 30, 2009)

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