Sichuan Earthquake Update

Help the Earthquake Children to Recover
June 5th, 2008

Open-air school cheers Sichuan’s children Chinese kindergarten teacher’s decision to offer classes gives evacuees new ho

source: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/world/20080523TDY05312.htm

The Yomiuri Shimbun
(May. 23, 2008)

MIANYANG, China–A Chinese kindergarten teacher has opened a school at a camp in Mianyang, China, for children displaced by the recent earthquake that struck Sichuan Province.

Zhu Xia, 32, visited an area hit by the quake in the Anxian district, about 40 kilometers from the center of Mianyang, on Saturday to donate goods to quake evacuees.

While at a camp for displaced people, she noticed that children looked depressed, and were wandering around with nothing to do. She concluded that they were traumatized by the physical injuries they suffered in the quake, or because they had lost family members.

As Zhu’s kindergarten in Chengdu is currently closed due to the risk of aftershocks, she decided to offer classes to the children at the camp.

On Sunday, she read a picture book to a class of eight. On Monday, 30 children gathered for her class. By Tuesday, the number jumped to about 150.

The school, which is held outside, has been named “Yang Guang” (Sunshine) school. As there are no chairs or desks, the children attending Yang Guang sit on the ground, surrounded by tents set up for the evacuees.

When a group of Yomiuri Shimbun reporters covering the earthquake visited the school, children, who were taking an English class, shouted, “Happy!”

“Though the children were fearful of aftershocks, it now appears they feel safer by being with others of a similar age,” Zhu said.

Zhu returned to Chengdu on Wednesday, and volunteers from Hong Kong have taken over.

At the school, children are taught how to prevent diseases while they are living in the tents and how to react toward children who lost their parents in the disaster.

The school has made children in the district far happier, and adults look relieved when they drop by the school and see their children in class, residents said.

Zhao Lin, 11, who lost his parents in the earthquake, still looked depressed, but said, “Now I know I’m not alone.”

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