Tibetans affected by earthquake learn to drive

Updated: 2015-06-12 07:31

By Palden Nyima and Da Qiong in Xigaze, Tibet(China Daily)

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Evacuee Drolma Sherpa was about to pick up her two children from kindergarten after preparing lunch for the family, as her husband, Nyima Dorje, went out to practice driving.

They were among the 413 households evacuated to a settlement in the Tibetan city of Xigaze after the magnitude-7.9 earthquake hit Nepal and border areas of Tibet on April 25.

"We do not have work to do in the settlement, and going to a driver's school near the camp is meaningful," said Nyima Dorje.

The 35-year-old said he had long wished to learn how to drive.

"The government paid the cost of learning, and we were provided theory and practice courses all day long," he said.

The practice area is next to the camp. With five instructors, the beginning drivers get the chance to practice all day.

Tashi Norbu, chief of the Nyanang county human resources and social security bureau, said 254 people are taking the free driving training course, with all the school fees being paid by the government.

"The government is working on finding jobs for the evacuees next," he said.

Nyima Dorje comes from Dam, a township in Nyanang county that was severely hit by the April earthquake. Before the quake, Nyima and his wife ran a restaurant, shop and street cleaning service in Dam, Tibet's biggest border crossing.

Nyima Dorje has extensive business experience and has traded in goods between Dam and Kathmandu for 15 years. He is also an excellent interpreter.

"I worked as an interpreter for more than 10 years," he said. "I speak English, Nepalese, Mandarin and Tibetan."

Recently, he read the Tibetan-language version of driving theory. He sometimes has difficulty reading, so the government provided him with an audio version.

"My plan is to get a driver's license and then buy a car," he said.

His wife originally came from Nepal's Gorkha county. She worked as a street cleaner before the earthquake and has resumed her work in the settlement.

"I am happy I can continue my job of cleaning in the settlement," said Drolma Sherpa, 25.

"Thanks to the great care of the government, my husband is getting free training, and I got a salary raise as well."

Nyima Dorje and Drolma Sherpa hope to extend their business experience to Xigaze.

"The government plans to set up a Nepali department store in Xigaze, and I have applied for a stall in it," Nyima Dorje said.

The couple have two sons. Five-year-old Choedron Tenzin attends the tent kindergarten in the settlement, while 2-year-old Tenzin Dralha goes to a kindergarten operated by volunteers.

 Tibetans affected by earthquake learn to drive

Nyima Dorje, a 35-year-old Tibetan, reads a driver training manual in a tent at the settlement in Xigaze last week.

(China Daily 06/12/2015 page7)