Herdsmen Live A Modern Life
   2013-10-09 09:54:42    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Guo Jing

An old Tibetan woman washes clothes in Rinchen village of Maqu county on August 28, 2013. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

In the past, they wandered the vast grasslands, grazing sheep and yaks. They lived a nomadic life and found shelter under simple tents to resist wind and storm. They had very few belongings, and sheep and yaks were their main property. However, with social and economic progress, these vagrants began to settle down.

CRI's Zhang Ru gives you a close look at a modern herdsmen's village in Maqu county, Gansu province.


 

"We moved here in 2008. I have two daughters, one son, and four grandchildren."

Herdsman Norig Tsering took his wife and four grandchildren to Rinchen village in Maqu County.

Completed in 2006, the settlement consists of 144 house units, each covering about 80 square kilometers. Such a house costs 70 thousand yuan, herdsmen have to pay only 20 thousand, while the remaining amount is covered by the government.

Li Zheng'an, an official at Maqu county government, introduced the situation of the herdsmen settlement.

"We have built 11 such settlements in Maqu, several are in the county, others are in the countryside along the road. Township governmental authorities have set offices in each settlement. The project was launched in 2007. To date, 4900 units of houses have been finished and more than 200 thousand people are living here. We can say that most herdsmen have settled down."

As the herdsmen's main income is still from stock farming, young and middle-aged people continue to raise herds on the grasslands. Most villagers from the settlements are seniors and children. The modern settlements ensure sanitation, education, electricity and water supply. It gives better access for children to go to school.

"We decided to move in after learning about the government's new settlement project. The site is close to the county, and it is convenient to go to hospital and school. We haven't encountered any problems with this positive policy since moving in."

The site selection and supporting facilities of the settlements are very reasonable. Located in areas where herdsmen concentrate, each village has its own school, clinic and township government office. Infrastructure can support villagers' basic needs.

Li Zheng'an said the new settlement project had been completed in 2010. In addition to electricity and water supply for each household, a road network links every village. Solar power street lamps and Tibetan styled garbage stations have been installed. Everything is improving.

To ensure herdsmen who are used to spending most of their life on horseback benefit from the settlement, the local government has assigned college graduates to take charge of herdsmen's medical care, education, and other issues. Li Yongsheng, who graduated from Lanzhou University of Finance and Economics in 2005, is one of them. Since 2007, he has been serving the Maqu county government, in charge of herdsmen settle-down issues.

"At the beginning, we did encounter some difficulties. Some herdsmen didn't understand the policies, some can't afford a house, and some took a wait-and-see attitude. But when herdsmen started to move into settlements, some who hadn't bought houses at the beginning asked the government to provide them with a house."

Through Li's unremitting efforts, herdsmen gradually understood the settlement policy and became willing to settle down. Li said he has also built up good relationships with herdsmen through the work.

"I also made friends with them. If you can put yourself in their shoes, they will also feel for you."

Li says he chose this career following his parents' footsteps. He dedicates himself to serving at the grassroots level and contributing to the development of this less developed area.

Thanks to favorable governmental policies, the contribution of well-educated young people and the support of the herdsmen, new settlements have been mushrooming over the recent years. Herdsmen's lives have been significantly improved.

"The 160 households in the village are divided into two production brigades. The government has helped us a lot in settling down. Our village authority invited a Buddhist monk in for preaching, who taught us to be respectful and kind towards others. In the past, theft was quite common among herdsmen. But now, it has been completely eradicated in the village."

The children of herdsmen can receive a better education after their parents settle down, will they give up grazing when they grow up? Li Zheng'an answers that if they can find a better job and live a better life, he hopes that they can leave this vast land and enjoy the convenience of a modern life.

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