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Keeping Hope Alive in the Wrath of the China Quake
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Ramsey Rayyis, American Red Cross Regional Representative, China
July 9, 2009

"We've had to relocate twice," lamented Liu Yuzhu, standing on a new construction site with his baby girl in his arms. "But this time, we really hope we can finish construction and have our home by the end of September!"

China Quake
ARC reps meet with a local villager from Jing Hua, amongst the construction of their relocation, supported by donations to the ARC.

China Quake
ARC reps together with villagers relocated from Jing Hua, in front of a pile of bricks, the sign of progress, and hope

China Quake
ARC reps together with villagers relocated from Jing Hua, in front of a pile of bricks, the sign of progress, and hope

Flanked by many neighbors, from the mountain village of Jing Hua, families had been forced to relocate almost the entire town due to hazards that remain, and nerve-wracking aftershocks that still occur.  Villagers were first placed in temporary shelters far from there original homes, then given the option to move again to a centralized community closer to their villages, with greater support and infrastructure.

A visiting American Red Cross Water Specialist, Yohannes Hagos, was clearly concerned when he felt a 5.1 aftershock that shook the city during meetings in the already cracked and precarious building with the Water Bureau in Mianzhu County,

"That was a serious jolt, and I felt so absolutely out of control, he said. "My heart is still pounding. I can't imagine the pain that everyone else here must be feeling, after having survived such a big trauma already."

They do feel immense pain and anxiety, but there is also hope.

Residents who are grateful to be alive left almost everything behind, relocating far from their village immediately after the quake.  For many, like Liu Yuzhu, times have been tough; not just because of the loss of life and "root shock" faced by having been ripped from the stability of their home of many years, but also from having to live in the great unknown. Many, like Liu, are not able to move forward with jobs as migrant workers in neighboring provinces, but are instead staying to work at managing the construction of a new home that they are grateful to have, but can barely manage to afford.  Fortunately, the Red Cross has come through, and will help ease the burden in this difficult time.

As part of the generous contributions from US private and corporate citizens, the American Red Cross was able to support more than $14 million for emergency response immediately after the earthquake in May 2008, and an additional  $30 million for the longer-term recovery efforts. This assistance is providing support to villagers to help them absorb the cost of contractors and materials for rebuilding of their homes. These efforts will not only support the housing reconstruction for thousands of relocated villagers, but will also provide a safe and secure water system for them and their children-something that was only vaguely a reality before the tragic Sichuan quake.

For Liu Yuzhu, who can only wait for this to be over, and for the next phase of his life to move on, he seems amazingly optimistic. Thanks to the Red Cross, and contributions of others, he is able to envision  the completion of his home, clean and safe water for his children, and a bright future for his family.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.

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