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.”
A policy memorandum published today by Ministry of Civil Affairs and Sichuan Provincial Government has highlighted the principles regarding the care of earthquake orphans. The priority is given to children’s relatives and parents who lost their children in the earthquake.
In short term, orphans and children with missing parents must be taken care by the local government, in separation with other victims. While in the process of identifying their parents, the authority must arrange the children to be taken care by social welfare organisation, temporary foster families or boarding schools in other areas of Sichuan with better conditions, or other provinces.
In long term, the momorandum has highlighted several principles in terms of child adoption and fostering. The priority will be given to children’s relatives, with the support of local government. If relatives can not be found, or are not able to support the child, those families who lost their children in the earthquake will be given the priority to adopt an orphan. The orphans can also be fostered by other families in China who are willing to help. The memorandum stresses that consent must be sought from the child if he or she is over 10 years old before being adopted or fostered. Some orphans may be taken by orphanages.
CEO, Mother Bridge of Love
04 June 2008
Psychological counselling and school rebuilding are the two big challenges local educational authorities are facing. Before the earthquake, local government has embarked on a plan of bridging the gap of quality and access between urban and rural areas by building central boarding schools for the children from remote rural areas, who can study in Town Centre Schools with better facilities and teaching resources. Now the focus is on assessing how to rebuild schools quickly. It’s likely as the first step, temporary schools will be built in the central areas.
The earthquake has left more than 4000 children orphaned or without proper parental care. There has been huge waves of sympathy from families around China. Many of them also have expressed the willingness to adopt an earthquake orphan. International adoption is not high on the agenda.
Our local correspondents and volunteers also told me the distribution of aids is not even, largely dependent on accessibility. Towns and villages along the main roads have been well covered. However villages difficult to reach need more aids. Some self-organised volunteers with better transport, knowledge and equipments are doing well in filling the gaps.
CEO, Mother Bridge of Love
27 May 2008
(The information for MBL from FanWu in USA.)
Chinese eager to adopt quake orphans By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN and CARA ANNA, Associated Press Writers
The children’s faces stare in somber black-and-white photos from newspapers and scribbled posters at relief camps, seeking their parents. Many will never find them.
As the first estimate of orphans - more than 4,000 - emerged Thursday from last week’s deadly earthquake, thousands of Chinese are rushing to offer their homes. “My husband and I would really like to adopt an earthquake orphan (0-3 years old),” Wang Liqin wrote on popular Web site Tianya.com in a forum that was already three pages long.
The high interest is another sign of China’s tremendous post-quake outpouring of sympathy, buoyed by rising prosperity. And it’s a surprising turnabout in a country in which government red-tape, poverty and traditional attitudes long combined to discourage adoption.
The new enthusiasm also means that Americans and other foreigners wanting to adopt may not have a chance. Officials estimate that the number of Chinese wanting to adopt the earthquake’s orphans may outnumber the orphans themselves.
CHENGDU, China, May 18 (Reuters) - Chinese authorities already struggling to deal with the aftermath of Monday’s massive earthquake are now trying to cope with a flood of children orphaned by the disaster.
Over the weekend more than 140 Chinese teenagers with missing parents were moved to a university campus in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu.
Experts and social workers warn that much more needs to be done to repair the deep psychological damage that they and other survivors have suffered, in an earthquake whose death toll is already approaching 30,000, and is likely to climb further.
“The students have been given the food, clothes and shelter that they need since they arrived last night. And they are now starting to think about their families. They are crying at night as they can’t find their parents,” said their teacher Zhang Ping.
“I think we have a big problem on our hands.”
Between the ages of 13 to 15, the students are from Yingxiu town, which was badly battered when the 7.9 quake rocked the southwestern province of Sichuan on Monday.
Many schools collapsed. Witnesses say they simply sank into the ground.
“The primary schools were completely flattened. My little sister is buried inside,” said Luo Xiaofung, 15. “I don’t think she could have survived.”
“We all quickly went under our tables as our teachers told us we are considered very lucky,” said Luo. Except for about 30 students and five teachers, everyone in her 1,600-strong school survived, teachers said.
For Luo and her schoolmates, the canteen of the Chengdu Medical University will be their home for the foreseeable future.
Carpenters worked round the clock over the weekend to assemble bunk beds for the teenagers while university students removed half a dozen pool tables from the canteen to give the teenagers more space.
A large hall on an upper floor has been converted into their new dormitory with each child allotted the space of just one single mattress on the floor in the meantime.
“This is better than sleeping in a tent. It was beginning to stink (with rotting corpses) when we left Yingxiu,” said another student, Zhang Li.
Most of the students busied themselves cleaning and washing their clothes and shoes during their afternoon break.
But social workers say it will be a long time before any semblance of normalcy returns to the lives of these young people — if it happens at all.
“They may nod and agree when you tell them to be strong, but they are very hurt inside. They have lost their parents, lost everything in a flash,” said social worker Qian Guijun.
“The smaller children can’t even verbalise their feelings. They have a look of terror when you mention the earthquake. They just start tearing up.”
Many of the students were fixated on the two large TV screens installed in their dormitory, carrying news reports of the aftermath of the quake. One child turned around and hid her face, as she quietly wiped away her tears.
Thirteen-year-old Zeng Qiang, who lost his mother in the quake and is hunting for his father, asked a Reuters journalist to contact his older sister in Beijing. “Please let her know that granny and me are alive,” he said.
Yang Huijun, dean of the School of Basic Medicine, said many challenges lie ahead. Volunteers, like the Hong Kong-based Social Workers Across Borders, have approached the university to offer counseling services.
“We’ll have to work on their later problems, their emotional problems, once they settle in,” Yang said. (Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
A useful link: