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Welfare Program Helps Tibetans for Better Living
Zhoinqung, a Tibetan woman, has taught her fellow countrymen how to control dehydration: add salt into their staple food of Zanba, which is roasted qingke barley flour and drinking water.

This simple method has helped the farmers and herdsmen living in Zhazong Township of Tingri County, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, to prevent and treat the common affliction.

Zhoinqung is one of several hundred people helping improve the living conditions of Tibetans through a welfare program, which aims to improve medical services and sanitation in the four counties of Tingri, Nyalam, Gyirong and Dinggye in the Mount Qomolangma Nature Reserve, where more than 86,000 farmers and herdsmen live.

The program, jointly sponsored by the local government and a USfoundation, was launched in 1994.

According to an agreement, the Mount Qomolangma Nature Reserve Administration is responsible for carrying out set programs and establishing the service system, and the foundation, named Future Generations, provides funds and expert consultations.

After receiving training, people like Zhoinqung are responsiblefor helping locals improve their awareness of environmental protection and teaching them knowledge and skills that can lead them onto the road to prosperity.

Most of the venues for training are in the Mount Qomolangma Nature Reserve. Courses are arranged in accordance with the actualconditions in the area and with what locals are concerned about. Currently, the training courses cover subjects including public health, natural environment protection, skills for making money, ecology-friendly tourism services and improvement of housing conditions.

Many trained people like Zhoinqung are easily found in the grazing area, the farmland and on the road to tourist attractions, providing various services to tourists from across the world. They also teach local people how to protect the environment.

The Garma valley in Tingri County is one of the seven major protected areas inside the Mount Qomolangma Nature Reserve.

Unaware of any need to protect their environment, locals cut downs natural forest for daily use in the past.

The training program sent technicians to Qudang Township in Tingri County to guide locals in how to plant poplar, willow, apple, Chinese prickly ash and other trees. A nursery has been built, providing more than 30,000 saplings for a local agricultural development zone and local people. Many former lumbermen have turned to growing trees.

Zhoinqung helps villagers plant trees in their front and back yards, even managing to plant poplar trees, putting an end to the saying "poplar trees do not grow in Tibet."

Yan Yinliang, an official with the Mount Qomolangma Nature Reserve Administration, said the program had trained more than 580people.

A total of 223, including Zhoinqung, have been named "Pandeba," which means rural welfare worker in Tibetan. These people shoulderthe responsibility to carry out more than 90 percent of the work relating to grassroots medical and health care services in rural areas, and they have made marked achievements in promoting immunity among children, education on environmental protection and family planning.

(People’s Daily October 8, 20022)

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