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Project worker says it is tough but worth the effort

SHANGHAI construction project worker Qiu Guoqiang has only seen his family for 10 days since May last year.

The 52-year-old worker arrived in quake-hit Mianyang City of Sichuan Province on May 25 last year, with hundreds of colleagues from Shanghai Urban Construction Group to build temporary shelters for local people.

"I'm old and my son is already in college, I don't miss my family that much," Qiu tells Shanghai Daily.

Yet, he calls home every day and has learned to type SMS messages faster in order to get in touch with his son more frequently. The father also brought spicy beef and peanuts back home during a seven-day vacation to share his favorite Sichuan specialties with family and friends.

When his work in Mianyang was completed two months later, Qiu went directly to Datong Village in Daguan Town at the foot of Qingcheng Mountain in Dujiangyan City. The city lost more than 3,000 residents during the May 12 disaster. Total economic losses exceeded 50 billion yuan (US$7.33 billion) and more than 80 percent of the buildings were damaged.

"I'm definitely not the only one," Qiu says. "Most of my colleagues were transferred from Mianyang to Dujiangyan last July."

"Old people like me have already spent more time at home. Many of my younger colleagues only went back for seven days during the Chinese New Year."

Qiu adds that many of his young colleagues had to break up with their girlfriends due to the difficulties of managing a long-distance relationship.

Eight construction com-panies in Shanghai were handed 89 projects, ranging from building homes to waste treatment projects.

Shanghai Urban Construction has sent more than 80 employees to manage six projects.

Most Dujiangyan residents are still living in temporary rooms. On average, a family of three share a temporary room of about 20 square meters. Many temporary communities are equipped with grocery markets, neighborhood community offices and aiding offices for those who have lost their jobs during the quake.

Although difficult, residents have been trying to move on and get back to an ordinary life with their new neighbors. Some even gather at night to sing and dance together in the common area inside the community.

Qiu works and lives at a waste treatment project site in Datong village, a suburban area about 10 kilometers from the city. Only steps away from the famous attraction, Qiu hasn't climbed Qingcheng Mountain during his 10-month-stay here. Like most of his colleagues, he has only one day off every week but they are required to stay on site.

Qiu is happy as their hard work has been recognized by local villagers. Despite the distinct dialects, Qiu and his colleagues have befriended many local villagers.

"It has been difficult, but I feel proud to have been able to make a small contribution to this community right before my retirement," says Qiu.


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