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Quake Orphans Brought to Capital

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A total of 23 ethnic Tibetan orphans from quake-hit Yushu, in northwest China's Qinghai Province, arrived in Beijing on Thursday for psychological treatment and to celebrate International Children's Day on June 1.

The children arrived at Beijing West Railway Station at 1:30 PM on the No.152 train from Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province. The oldest among them was 8 and the youngest 8.

"I hope, with our tender care, their memories of the catastrophic earthquake will gradually fade away," said Wei Jiuming, chairperson of the China Children Charity Aid Foundation, the group that sponsored their trip.

The children underwent health checks with doctors from the Air Force General Hospital and were then sent to a school in Langfang, a neighboring city to Beijing, where they will stay for three months of treatment.

"After the three months, if these children want to continue to stay in Beijing, the charity will pay for all of their life and education expenses until they are 18," Wei added.

While they are in the Beijing area, the children will also receive an education and visit famous landmarks, including the Summer Palace, the Great Wall and Tian'anmen Square.

Sumchung Pamo, 2, the youngest member of the group, lost her parents, aunt and uncle during the 7.1-magnitute earthquake that struck the remote region on April 14.

She traveled to Beijing along with three of her siblings.

Pamo was pulled from the rubble of her home by a neighbor, covered in dust and tears, said Bai Ma, her teacher at the orphanage she was sent to. Bai was one of the adults who accompanied the children to Beijing.

Bai said Pamo was well-behaved at the orphanage and liked to sleep in her teachers' arms.

"She is too little to know what has happened to her parents and relatives," she said. "The teachers at the orphanage will raise her until she grows up."

Lhatso Chozin, 8, smiled when volunteers handed her a school bag with a picture of Mickey Mouse on it. She said her older brother was still in an orphanage in Yushu.

When asked whether she knew what had happened to her parents, her smile disappeared and she lowered her head and nodded.

"Thanks uncle and aunt for taking me to Beijing," she said.

Gao Hanrong, a staff member with the charity foundation, went to Yushu on May 13 to pick up the orphaned children.

She burst into tears when talking about her experiences there.

"Around 300 children are stranded at the orphanage I visited. There are many orphanages like this in Yushu," she said. "I hope everyone can make a contribution, no matter how big or small."

The 7.1-magnitude earthquake that hit Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwest China's Qinghai Province a little more than a month ago left at least 2,200 dead.

(China Daily May 21, 2010)

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