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Yushu: Grace and respect under duress

By Guan Xiaomeng (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-04-26 11:16
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Qiang Wei, party secretary of Qinghai province, burst into tears while telling the story of how he saw names of contributors on the collapsed wall of an orphanage in a Yushu village during his visit there after the devastating earthquake.

The party secretary, who thinks of himself as a sturdy man, said he couldn't help breaking down at the simplicity of the locals, who sacrificed economic development for the sake of ecological protection in the cradle of Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers. "Although underdeveloped, they understand the need to be thankful of others. They deserve help when in difficulty," Qiang said.

I summarized what the provincial head wanted to convey through his tears like this: he was moved by his people's grace through difficulty.

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Another story of a Tibetan girl convinced me of this even more. "Thank you, and sorry to bother you," the girl said to rescuers from under the rubble when they found her, with a weak voice after 12 hours of being trapped and one of her feet stuck in the collapsed building.

Judging from the TV footage, she is no more than a teenager. The apology was not the offhand manner of a girl of her age but a fairly well-cultured reaction of a gentle young woman. In other words, I believe it was part of the traditional Chinese female virtues of being humble and considerate even in the face of danger.

I don't know what the rescuers, who had spent hours digging with their hands to save her, thought exactly when they heard the apology. But it might have sparked them to continue working to save more people, even if it meant they would have to continue digging.

Being in pain does not necessarily mean being weak. A young Tibetan man refused to leave the hospital after being treated. Instead he asked to remain as a volunteer there. "Interpreting or cooking, I will do anything I can to help," he said. Changing his patient clothes for volunteers' T-shirt, the young policeman, who still needed medical attention, said he was doing it to pay back those who had helped him.

He could have gone home to take care of his pregnant wife. But he chose to take care of others in need of help. This kind of action could inspire more people to help and it will be more good news for Yushu.

Wenchuan in neighboring Sichuan province, which was hit by an 8.0-magnitude earthquake two years ago and is still under reconstruction, rushed to help Yushu with truck loads of relief materials carrying the banner, "Thankful Wenchuan helps Yushu". To be grateful and helpful to one another is good news for the whole nation.

A 10-year-old thankful Tibetan boy invited by a CCTV charity show touched me the most. The pupil, the youngest volunteer helping out in the makeshift hospitals, became emotional and gave a young pioneer's salute after saying, "I am moved by all of you and thank you very much," to donators, who were moved by the boy's brave deeds in the quake relief.

He is not just waiting for help but rebuilding his homeland with his own little hands. Yushu is not crying from pain but smiling for the sake of a better future.