Saturday, April 17, 2010

China Mobilizes Grassroots Aid for Tibetan Earthquake Victims: UPDATE

Chinese people are mobilizing their own grassroots aid for Tibetan earthquake victims. This photo, taken just a few hours ago in Chengdu's "Tibet Town," shows a street corner collection point for blankets and emergency supplies.

In a strange turn of events, the Kham earthquake has had considerable effect on the way average Chinese perceive Tibetans. Heretofore, that perception was largely negative -- a reflection of the way Tibetans are portrayed in the media. However, now that broadcast images from the disaster zone have flooded state-controlled Chinese television, people are for the first time getting a glimpse of reality. Indeed, Newsweek is running with a story on this phenomenon, as are other media.

In consequence, Chinese people are opening their hearts. In addition to state-managed aid, which is proceeding at an almost unprecedented level, virtually every town and city in China is organizing fundraising campaigns, and opening collection points for material aid. People are sending blankets, warm clothing, tents, and all manner of necessities.

Chinese Buddhists, who of course number in the millions, are said to be particularly active.

Meanwhile, our sources in the region have informed us that 500 monks have been dispatched to Jyekundo from Sertha, and also others from Dranggu. There is, so tragically, now a necessity for many monks to help with the dead.

 Monk stands amid bodies in this Reuters pool photo taken yesterday

UPDATED: Xinhua is reporting the death toll at 1,300 and rising, as rescue efforts pass the 72 hour window. On the ground estimates from the region tell us to expect that number to quickly reach 4,000.

Note: We are continuously updating links to earthquake coverage at our consolidation page, here.

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