20080607 : Chengdu, part 4 (Kirsten)

Kirsten wrote this.

On Sunday, June 1st 30-ish volunteers loaded up trucks, cars, and buses to head 3 hours north of Chengdu to a town called Lou Shui. On the way to Luo Shui, you might not know a 7.9 earthquake killed 70,000 people, left millions homeless, and an area the size of Iceland to rebuild; Chengdu bustles along, the farmers till their fields and the sun shines golden in an unusually bright blue sky. Then as if by magic, you cross a river. You might notice that the bridge that spans the river has a section blocked off. If you look as you pass, you’ll see a gaping hole. You begin to see houses that are cracked, but they look old and poor, so the cracking can be explained away by poverty. Driving further along, neighborhoods begin to look like
demolition sites. But why, you wonder, would anyone demolish a neighborhood? And then you come to a town where the buildings are now fist sized pieces of rubble, and brightly coloured tents sprout forth like an oddly shaped Lewis Carroll garden.

And so the volunteers unloaded the trucks, buses, and cars at the first of 4 sites. At the first stop 400 children waited with barely controlled excitement, for their Children’s Day surprise. Children’s Day in China is a bit like having Christmas in June. The volunteers came bearing gifts -badminton sets, balls, cars, dolls, dress up, books… There was even a rag tag group of musicians with a drum and guitar, and a random Frenchman who encouraged the kids to jump and dance. With so many children who have been living in tents for 3 weeks it was difficult to maintain control in the face of unabated excitement. After 45 minutes the volunteers departed, sweat-soaked and grinning, for stop number 2.

Stops number 2, 3 and 4 were far more manageable in number of children and time to set up. This meant that the children involved had more time to play games, draw, paint, and dance. The kids and their parents were truly amazing. To see the kids play with their new toys, you wouldn’t know that this one lost their mom, that one’s dad died, these over here don’t have a home, and she’s an orphan. There isn’t much more I can say about June 1st,except that I hope those toys did some good, and then let the pictures speak

for themselves.

As for an update on the group that is working on these projects… Sichuan Quake Relief met the other night and decided to shift focus from emergency aid relief to long term projects. The first step is for researchers to head out into the affected areas and collect information on what is needed. Once a project database has been established, projects will be chosen, and information disseminated to other organizations, businesses, and government related offices who want it.