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Progress as Homes are Rebuilt in Sichuan
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Red Cross
May 1, 2009

You don't need an expert on the Chinese art of Feng Shui - which is all about where and how to position buildings in harmony with nature - to tell you that Yuejia village occupies a superb location in Southwest China.

From his new house a little way down the village, He Xiande has a commanding view across fields that in the spring are bright yellow with flowers of the oil-bearing rapeseed plant.

But more important than location and view, He Xiande enjoys a sense of security in his home. "We don't feel as though the house is shaking every time there's an aftershock. We feel much safer," he says.

He Xiande and his wife, Zhu Qinyong, are one of 90 families that have moved into new homes across the valley from their old village that was devastated by the May 2008 earthquake.

These new homes were built with assistance from the Red Cross and the Chinese Government. He Xiande and his wife are among nearly 70,000 families participating in a program sponsored by the Chinese Government that empowers families to rebuild homes that meet their needs. The Government of Sri Lanka implemented a similar model with support from the Red Cross, following the 2004 tsunami. In the Sri Lanka program, homeowners received cash payments upon completing each of four construction phases.

Similarly, in China, the Red Cross is providing three separate payments at progressive stages in the construction process that will add up to $3,000. These payments will supplement government payments issued at the same stages. Most homeowners will likely use the payments to hire local contractors to construct their houses.

The other component of the Red Cross shelter program is homeowner education. Each homeowner attends a training session to learn what makes a home earthquake-resistant, what the government guidelines are, and how to meet these guidelines so that houses achieve specified standards. All of these components are designed to ensure that homeowners have the knowledge and tools to remain safely in their homes, even if another earthquake should strike.

Through the housing reconstruction program, the landscape in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi is gradually being transformed. The Red Cross is providing a solid basis for people's lives to move forward.

You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation by mailing your donation with the designation to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243 , Washington, D.C. 20013 or to your local American Red Cross chapter. Donations to the International Response Fund can be made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org.

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