When her uncle dug the 10-month-old baby girl from the ruins in Jiegu on the afternoon of April 14 -10 hours after the earthquake hit Yushu county in Qinghai province - she was covered by her mother's body.
Her cousins, who are taking care of her in the children's hospital in Xining, call her Baomu - which means girl in the Kham Tibetan language. Her parents, who died in the quake, had not had time to give her a formal name.
"When we found them, her mother's body was still covering the girl tightly," Baomu's uncle, Gelai, said. "She blocked the bricks and stones that might hurt the girl. The mother was four months' pregnant."
This is but a short passage extracted from an article written by Ivan Zhai today from the SCMP, but it brings to light the sheer monstrosity of the quake that struck Yushu on 14 April on the one hand, and the beauty and possibilities of humanity on the other.
I have not visited Yushu county per se, but I have spent 2 weeks in the Tibetan quarters of Qinghai in 2007 doing research work on the Tu minority there. I was struck by the area’s serenity and spirituality, and also forged friendships with a few Tibetans from Yushu county who were then working in Xining. I had even made plans to visit the annual Yushu Horse Racing Festival in July someday. What I had not anticipated was that before I could actually go there, an earthquake struck on 14 April, 2010, destroying this beautiful land and it people.
The official death toll as at 2pm today was 2039, of which more than a hundred are school children. 195 are missing and more than 12,000 injured. These numbers will continue to rise as long as proper shelter could not be provided and medical supply scarce. School children, traumatized and withdrawn from losing their families in the quake, are forced to attend “school” amidst the rubble while returning “home” at the end of the day to sub-zero temperatures in the open.
Many of you may already have donated to established charities worldwide – THANK YOU. However, established institutions have their drawbacks. Size and bureaucracy means that a lot of money is lost through the layers in administration while being “multinational” means that they are foreign to the local environment and culture, therefore slowing down the relief process. As Zhang Haiyu, a professor of psychology at Qinghai University of Nationalities said, volunteers or non-governmental organisations helping the children should be familiar with Tibetan religion and customs, and better still if they could provide a familiar environment for the orphans in terms of food and daily habits.
JAMTSE ASSOCIATION AND KUNPEN VOCATIONAL TRAINING CENTER (KVTC)
Ute Wallenbock, a good friend of mine, is asking for our help in supporting the work of two local NGOs based in Yushu. Originally from Vienna, she is a doctorate in Chinese and Tibetan Studies who has lived in the Tibetan regions of Qinghai and Yunnan for more than seven years. Over the past two years she has been actively involved in the establishment of the amtse Association and Kunpen Vocational Training Center (KVTC), Jboth politically and religiously independent registered organizations dedicated to educating and supporting Tibetan children and young people. The Jamtse Association in particular has established an orphanage in which 28 of its children attended Yushu Disanwanquan Primary School. The Xinhua media reported two days ago that the school had collapsed, and only 23 children throughout the school were able to escape. Both Jamtse Association and KVTC are now working hard to rebuild the lives of children in Yushu.
The director of Jamtse Association is injured during the quake and being hospitalized in Xining while the vice-director along with the director of KVTC is in Yushu doing relief work. All are local Tibetans from the region. Attached you will find the registration documents of Jamtse Association for your reference. The ones for KVTC will be provided shortly. In the meantime, please visit its blog: http://aliaoke.blog.sohu.com/148588217.html
Donations are urgently needed for the reconstruction of children’s homes and the provision of food, clothing, and medical care. In the long run, donations will also be required for the reconstruction of schools and the provision of school equipment.
Jamtse Association and KVTC have their accounts registered in Yushu, but since all banks have collapsed in Yushu it is impossible for funds to be received locally, unless they are wired to private accounts in Xining. For those who wish to make a donation, I therefore propose three methods:
1. Transfer to my HSBC account (083-474809-833) in Hong Kong. I will hold the funds on trust and once banking facilities resume in Yushu, transfer in two equal amounts to Jamtse Association and KVTC.
2. Pledge your donation either by email to me (email@example.com) or on the facebook group HONG KONG YUSHU RELIEF I have created. Once banking facilities resume in Yushu, bank details will be provided to you from which you can then transfer directly to either Jamtse Association or KVTC.
3. Transfer to the personal account of Tsultrim Dargye, founder of KVTC, in Xining. He will keep detailed records and receipts on KVTC’s blog. Since the founder of Jamtse is in hospital, his account details could not obtained at the moment. Account details provided on request.
I understand that while this arrangement may not seem as organized as what the main charities have installed, we hope that by supporting these Tibetan NGOs you will have a more direct impact on the local community.
On behalf of Ute, Jamtse Association and KVTC, I thank you all for your kind support.
20 April, 2010