All the stories are touching, but as a teacher I was especially moved by Zhang Huibing’s story.
It’s Monday afternoon here in China. As I write this, the entire country just held 3 minutes of silence to commence a 3 day period of national mourning. It began at 2:28 pm, marking the very moment the massive quake struck in Wenchuan County, Sichuan. Flags flew at half-staff, the people wore white flowers and, heads bowed, held hands. Across the country, horns and sirens wailed in grief.
There are 32,477 people confirmed dead, more than 35,000 still missing.
Sadly and predictably, we are getting more information about children newly orphaned. We are now bringing together people and resources to prepare and train caregivers to help children through the next difficult phase of recovery. Unlike emergency relief (not our specialty but we're learning fast!), this is an area where HTS does have great expertise to offer. We will give all we can to these children who have many hard days ahead of them. I will be sharing our plans as they evolve.
Meanwhile, we continue to focus our attention on the most urgent needs of affected children – children in institutions and children orphaned or displaced by the disaster.
What follows is our most recent news. I’ve posted a few photos on our
and will update as more arrive.
Ziyang Social Welfare Institution – Building sustained severe damage.
They care for 48 children, 20 of them under four years-old. They request 50 cribs and cots, bandages, 10 milk pots, children’s clothes, 100 sets of bedding, bowls, spoons, chopsticks, toys and stationary supplies.
Deyang and Nanchong Social Welfare Institutions both have received notification that they should prepare immediately to receive newly orphaned children. All the children are living in tents. HTS will provide additional tents, beds and other requested items.
Guangyuan SWI – The children remain in tents. They were notified that they will be receiving several newly orphaned children (perhaps 50-60) very soon.
Shifang saw many of its schools destroyed, hundreds of children and their teachers buried. They sent us this heartbreaking story during the rescue efforts at Hongbai Primary School:
“‘We found him!’ Teacher Zhang Huibing’s body was finally discovered, frozen in a posture of pushing against the door frame. According to the students saved by him, when the earthquake happened, Teacher Zhang was on the platform of the classroom on the second floor, which was very near the door. He yelled to the students, ‘Run outside! Hurry!’ And he somehow held the door frame up with both arms as the children ran out, one by one.
Just as all the students were safely evacuated, the building collapsed on him. Teacher Zhang, who was only 30 years-old, had a four-year-old child of his own.”
As I mentioned in my last note, Mianyang has become a major refugee center. Of the more than 20,000 refugees in the city’s Jiuzhou Stadium, “scores” of them are young children. We are told, but this is not confirmed, that the entire center area of the stadium is reserved for toddlers and infants. Most are said to be from Dujiangyang, Beichuan and Mianzhu. Ma Lang is on her way to Mianyang now, so we will learn more soon.
Many children who have lost or become separated from their families are being brought to Chengdu, but not yet to the Chengdu Children’s Welfare Institution. Some have been taken to the Sichuan Children’s Center (an after-school and weekend activity center for children.)
About 30 children, from Yingxiu and Dujiangyang, were taken a Chengdu city park, the Qingyang Sports Center, which has been converted to a refugee camp. Some children have been united with family members. We’re told that some from the media are actively trying to reunite families. Most of the children in this camp who survived were in their teens. They told us that many younger children in their town did not survive because those in the primary schools and kindergartens were napping when the quake hit and could not run.
The youngest camp resident was 16 days-old. The military police made a special effort to bring her and her very young mother down to the camp from Yingxiu. The baby was only 11 days-old when her daddy perished in the earthquake.
Perhaps today's most heartbreaking story was about some of the 70 injured children who’d been carried down from the affected areas to Huaxi Hospital. Most of the children were reunited with parents or relatives; some were even well enough to leave the hospital after treatment. But a few children remained alone and unclaimed.
They were required to sign their own consent forms so that the doctors could amputate their limbs to save their lives.
Half the Sky spent much of the weekend purchasing requested supplies and shelter, organizing distribution and continuing to assess needs. In addition to the much-needed and wonderfully generous monetary donations from our amazing community of supporters, we have been flooded with offers of in-country help from from volunteers.
As you can imagine, many requested items are getting harder and harder to come by. Just today we doubled our refugee tent order to 200 – all that was available immediately – and already have requests for more. Shoppers in Chengdu have begun filling a no-longer-habitable room at the Chengdu CWI (Children’s Welfare Institution) with everyday goods destined for hard-hit areas. Others around China are working on fulfilling our giant shopping list. Some are flying in to Chengdu, hand-carrying items from our medical wish-list. Our wonderful friends at Gung-Ho Films, a Beijing-based film production services company, are offering logistics support, including shopping, shipping and door-to-tent delivery!
I can’t really express how moved we are by your generosity and your trust in Half the Sky to ensure that the children benefit from your gifts.
Today 3 more HTS Beijing staffers and 2 Gung-Ho staff traveled to Chengdu to help facilitate our relief efforts. We all feel privileged to be able to help.
If you would like to donate to Half the Sky’s Children’s Earthquake Fund, it would be great if you would do so at Global Giving as (even though they take 10% for processing and we do not (100% to the kids but at cost to our
programs) it allows HTS staff to focus on relief efforts while keeping our programs going.http://www.globalgiving.com/pr/2100/proj2086a.html
If you prefer to donate directly to Half the Sky, of course that’s fine.
Here are the various ways: You can donate by calling Half the Sky (+1 510
525 3377) or on our website:http://give.halfthesky.org/prostores/servlet/Categories?category=Children's+Earthquake+Fund
Many companies have announced they will match employee gifts for earthquake relief. Please check to see if your company will double your gift!
If you would like a Canadian tax receipt, please donate athttp://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=s86248
If you would like a Hong Kong tax receipt, please call us at +852 2520
5266 or online athttps://www.paydollar.com/b2c2/eng/charity/payInfo.jsp?charityId=4947
Thank you so much for your kindness and concern.
Half the Sky Foundationwww.halfthesky.org