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Weary Tibetan People Find Supporting Hand In ASU Graduate Student

horter stops in the spring and fall. They use yak dung for fuel and smoke it in their pipes.

"They been living on sort of a knife's edge for the last 30 years," said Andrew Smith, an ASU biology professor and Foggin's thesis advisor. Old grazing practices have changed for the nomads as grasslands have been degraded during this period making native animals, such as gazelle and antelope, almost non existent, he said.

More than 12,000 herders in a huge, five county area are starving, Smith said.

During an assessment trip, Foggin, 28, decided he had to serve the Tibetans.

"The need was so obvious," the Montreal resident said. "Some families had only two or three days worth of food left and their livestock had died. I could not ignore the people's cry."

In one township, a village sprung up in over just a few years as families that had lost all of their animals moved next to a local monastery to beg from occasional pilgrims, he said. One family had been there seven years and still had no hope to make a living.

Another family Foggin visited had sold its only tent to buy food. They are now living in a borrowed house nearby because the owners are temporarily in a neighboring county where the snow fall was less, and their livestock have a better chance of survival.

In February, Foggin surveyed these conditions in an area called Yushu and sent his report, with the help of a charity, to the Hong Kong government. He requested funds to purchase supplies for the herders.

In March, the Hong Kong government gave him and the charity $120,000. However, by this time, news began arriving about disastrous conditions in another area called Guolou. Knowing that four international relief organizations were already working in Yushu, Foggin asked the government to assist Guolou.

After three weeks of deliberation, officials agreed to let Foggin use the money in Guolou, where it continues to snow. The money
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Contact: Jim Hathaway
hathaway@asu.edu
(602) 965-6375
Arizona State University
24-Apr-1998


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