The Tibetan Cultural Region, the original environment of the Tibetans, consists of the regions Kham, Amdo and the Tibet Autonomous Region in the south-east of China.
The Gesar Fund provides support in the region Kham, especially in the area around the administrative capital Yushu in the south of the current province of Qinghai.
Yushu lies at 3700 meter altitude with long, cold and extremely dry winters. The short summers are wet. In 2010 Yushu had a population of over 120.000 inhabitants.
The Gesar General Store and the Gesar Community Centre are located in Dönda (in chinese: Qingshuise), some 60 kilometers to the north of Yushu.
Take a look at the region?
For maps and aerials of Kham, Yushu and Dönda, click on one of the images in the right column of this page.
In the region Kham the population consists of 90% etnic Tibetans; 60% of this group are nomadic yak, horse and goat shepherd, 25% is farmer and some 15% are monks and people working in construction, commerce or the service sector. The remote villages are populated in winter, when the nomads return from the even higher fields.
The economic situation is so bad that many people leave the are to work elsewhere and send the money home. The economic situation also encourages young people to leave the area permanent. This brain drain does not improve any chance on more prosperity.
Poverty and high mortality amongst women and young children go hand in hand, as medical care is hardly affordable. Apart from the human tragedy, the high mortality under women also causes more economic problems.
Medical care is concentrated in cities, where lives less than 10% of the population. This care hardly is enough to provided in the need of the total population of this remote area. The biggest healthcare issues are related to chronic intestinal infections like TBC, hepatitis, cataracts, neonatal care and chronical diseases related to living on high altitudes. Mortality rates of post-natal women and new-born infants are among the highest in the world.
The sparse schools mostly are boarding schools, where teaching materials often are primitive. Of course not all children can attend the boarding schools. Only 10% of the population can read and write their own Tibetan language.
The Chinese government works very hard on infrastructure like roads and communication systems. The idea is that more and better infrastructure will lead to more trade and more development. For example, in 1986 a north-south connection was constructed to Yushu County. However, for most people in the remote areas this hasn’t brought much improvement in healtcare, eduction or economics. Improvements in general are limited to the few cities. Much transport is still done by horse, most roads are unpaved. Half of the villages has no electricity.
Get some impressions of Yushu and its environment and click on one of the images in the right column of this page.