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China quake survivors strive for direction to new life
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10:31, May 08, 2009

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Lifting the rifle, aiming at the target, clicking the trigger, putting down the rifle, and lifting it again ...

Tian Fugang has been repeating the actions for the entire afternoon in a shooting range hall at Sichuan Land Sports School. Only the slight sound of triggering empty rifles could be heard, which was boring enough to make spectators fall asleep.

The training session ended with good news for Tian.

"I am accepted," he smiled.

The 22-year-old former technician, who was paralyzed in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12, 2008 in southwest Sichuan Province, had received operations and rehabilitation treatment until early this year.

He realized what his new dream could be after watching the Beijing Paralympic Games in September.

Thanks to the West China Hospital rehabilitation treatment and the media coverage, Tian, a football lover at first, got the opportunity to start training with the Sichuan provincial shooting and archery team in early April.

Tian passed the test and became a shooter after four weeks of training.

"He is talented and can calm down and concentrate on shooting, which is very important," said his coach Wang Ping.

Tian was also pleased to know that the school covers his accommodations and pays him a daily allowance of 20 yuan (about 3 U.S. dollars).

If he performs well in nationwide events, he will get a chance to be selected for the national team.

"I'm eased a little bit now as I can see some hope in the future," Tian said.

He Fang, who lived in another seriously hit area, the Hongbai Township of Shifang City, shared the similar feeling with Tian as she gained some confidence again when she got some business to do.

He Fang's daughter was buried under the debris of her kindergarten for two hours before He and her husband dug her out with help of other parents -- all by their bare hands.

"Our fingers were bleeding. I was scared. Only two survived among the six children buried together," she recalled.

The magnitude-8.0 quake that hit southwest China, including many parts of Sichuan, on May 12 killed more than 69,000 people. It also left nearly 18,000 missing, more than 374,000 injured and millions homeless.

The six-year-old girl had lived in fear for a long time and refused to go into the makeshift houses. Even now, the little girl would only go to sleep while being held in someone's arms.

He Fang lost her voice for more than one week. Both the husband and wife have been in deep desperation for a long time.

Early this year, she and her cousin opened a "makeshift hair salon" near the temporary-housing area of Hongbai.

With no decoration but some very simple facilities, He did haircut and simple hair dressing, which makes her family a daily income of about 200 yuan.

"I have to live on for my daughter. I can only forget the agony through hard work," she said.

She planned to rent a house to continue the business after the new township was completed.

However, her husband has not yet found a job. What he could do was to fetch some water for the salon, and then idled away the rest of the day.

"It's hard to find jobs either in or outside the province," He said.

Her worries were also the concern of the government that has highlighted the employment issue in the reconstruction plan in September.

With months' efforts, 1.2 million out of the 1.5 million who became jobless or landless after the quake were able to find employment again.

But due to the global financial crisis, the quake-hit areas face an even worse job market this year.

Jia Dechun, director of the makeshift housing area for residents from old Beichuan County, said that less than half of the 7,000 jobless people in his area have found employment, although local government has organized vocational training and provided job information.

Jia said they used to earn a living by house-leasing or running smaller businesses, which didn't require any skills or much physical strength.

"They can't accept the new life style that they have to make more efforts than before to feed their families," Jia said, adding that they have to change their mind before looking for jobs.

Jia admitted it's not easy for them to change.

Fu Huajian, 42, a resident in the region, was former headman at construction sites. He couldn't find post-quake employment until recently.

"I'm too old to compete with younger job hunters. Now I'm living on the deposit," said Fu, whose 17-year-old son died in the quake.

He and some friends enrolled in a driving school hoping they could get licenses and become drivers.

Jia said that employment remained the biggest pressure for him at the moment.

"A job is very important for people here because it helps people forget grief and look forward into a brighter future," he said.

Tian Fugang was lucky to have fixed his goal -- trying to catch up with his teammate Dong Chao, who won a bronze medal in the men's air rifle event at last year's Paralympics.

"I cherish this opportunity very much and will practice hard in order to go to London for the next Paralympics," he said.

Source:Xinhua



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