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A family in Tibetan village: 60 years of change
update:August 26,2019

Aug.26, 2019 -- A street of Khesum Community. Photo by Li Yuxin/China News Service

Aug.26, 2019 -- Sonam Dorje shows family photos to reporters. Photo by Li Yuxin/China News Service
Aug.26, 2019 -- Dawa, pioneer in becoming rich at Khesum Community, shows a certificate of honor to reporters. Photo by Li Yuxin/China News Service
Aug.26, 2019 -- The drama“ The Tears of Serfs” is staged. Photo by He Penglei/China News Service
Aug.26, 2019 -- In 1959, Sonam Dorje, 13, lived at the Khesum Estate, and like his parents, he was a serf.
Recalling his teenage years, Sonam Dorje said every day he went out to graze animals before dawn and worked until sunset. His wages could only afford his family to buy half a kilo of tsampa, and when he fell ill, no one took care of him. At that time, a serf was sold like animals at a price equivalent to 18 kilos of grain.
“In December, 1959, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army emancipated my hometown from serfdom,” Sonam Dorje said. “then, my family had our first own yak.”
The Khesum Community, where Sonam Dorje is now living, used to be one of the six estates owned by a serf owner in old Tibet. 
The estate has been known as “Tibet’s first village of democratic reform”, for it was the first village in Tibet to implement the democratic reform. In 2002, the village committee was renamed Khesum neighborhood committee governed by Changzhu Township of Nedong County in the Shannan area. As a witness to the new and old Tibet, Sonam Dorjeex said that he enjoys a life of happiness now.
As a pioneer in becoming rich at Khesum Community, Dawa seized the opportunity of China’s reform and opening-up and became one of the first to get rich.
In 1984, a family-contract responsibility system was implemented at Khesum Community. To improve farming efficiency, Dawa borrowed 3,000 yuan (423 U.S. dollars) to buy a walking tractor in 1986. In his spare time, he made money by transporting building materials and paid all loans within two years.
Thanks to the reform and opening-up, residents at Khesum Community basically abandoned the way of making a living mainly by farming and selling grain. Now their source of income has gradually become diversified, with the number of the residents engaged in passenger transport and freight transport or going out for work growing year by year.
Dawa said that his life is getting better and better with an increasing income over these years by running freight business, opening restaurants and driving a taxi.
In 2018, the annual per capita disposable income reached 19,735.5 yuan at KhesumCommunity,98.7 times that of 1978. In 2017, all poor residents were lifted out of poverty. Today, at Khesum Community, every family has access to tap water, replaces dim butter lamps with bright electric lights, and installs broadband networks.
Meanwhile, the cultural life is also flourishing at Khesum Community. In 2011,the farmers of the Khesum neighborhood committee wrote, directed and performed a drama “The Tears of Serfs”, which condemned the dark rule in old Tibet and reproduced the true story of the serfs exploited and oppressed at Khesum Estate before the democratic reform.
Speaking of the present Khesum Community, post-90sDekyiPaldron said it has changed dramatically since she was a child. After graduation from a vocational school in Lhasa in 2015, she chose to return to help build her hometown.
“We have a lot of entertainment in our daily life, such as playing billiards, doing yoga and playing basketball. There are also treadmills at the community.”
The 60 years of change at Khesum Community is the epitome of Tibet’s development history. Palbar Tsering, Party secretary of Khesum Community, said the community will developed tourism and boost the tertiary industry in the future.
By: Ai Ting
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