Habitat For Humanity Rebuilding Lives And Communities On Second Anniversary Of Sichuan Earthquake

About 1,000 Houses Built In Various Rural Communities North Of Sichuan Capital

BANGKOK, 12th May 2010: Two years after a devastating earthquake ripped through China’s Sichuan province, Habitat for Humanity continues to work in affected communities providing safe and permanent homes to families.

Volunteers such as the Happy Move team (above) supported by Hyundai Motor helped Habitat’s reconstruction effort in Sichuan.

Zhou Juyu and her husband Qing Ming realized their hope for a better future when their new home (right) was completed in Taizi village, Xiaoyudong town.

Habitat has hosted more than 650 volunteers in Sichuan since February 2009.

To date, Habitat for Humanity China has built about 1,000 homes in rural communities north of Sichuan’s capital Chengdu.

“Rebuilding safe, permanent homes after natural disasters takes time, patience and careful planning,” said Rick Hathaway, Asia-Pacific vice president for Habitat for Humanity International. “We are now seeing the results of that patience and planning.”

“We are grateful to our funding partners and our many volunteer builders as well as local government officials who have helped and are continuing to help put the needs of families and communities first.”

Habitat has built 962 houses, mostly in villages in Xiaoyudong township and Bailu township in Pengzhou city, about 25 kilometers northwest of Chengdu. Other houses were constructed in Zhongjiang county, Deyang city, some 58 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital. Construction work continues on another 57 houses in Changzhen community, Xiaoyudong township.

Nearly one-fifth of the homes built are two-story wooden frame houses designed by Sichuan University’s College of Architecture and Environment as part of a project supported by Chengdu and Pengzhou’s Bureau of Science and Technology.

Families have a choice of building walls with red bricks, stone, compressed earth blocks, fiber board or a combination of these materials. Some families opted to use bricks which they salvaged from the rubble of their collapsed houses. The houses also incorporated safety features to help the structures withstand future earthquakes.

In Taizi village, Xiaoyudong township, families who built 100-square-meter houses had the option of turning their homes into “nong jie le”, or rural home inns, which offer a type of “bed & breakfast” accommodation in this popular tourist area.

A Habitat home partner Zhou Juyu said: “After the earthquake, I felt despair because our house had collapsed. But life is getting better day by day. I still have what is precious to me – my son. With Habitat’s help, I am filled with hope for the future.” Her husband Qing Ming, who used to grow rice, switched to rearing organic chickens with an aim to boost his income. He also cultivates Chinese herbs to increase his earnings.

Habitat volunteers began building in Sichuan in February 2009. The first high-profile teams included award-winning Hong Kong singer and actress Karen Mok and actor and director Daniel Wu. To date, Habitat has hosted 23 teams and a total of more than 650 volunteers. The volunteers included South Korean students supported by Korean automobile maker Hyundai Motor and steel giant POSCO as well as teams from Hong Kong, Qatar, Singapore, the U.S. and international schools from other parts of China.

Primary donors for Habitat for Humanity’s work in Sichuan have included the Singapore Red Cross, Hong Kong Christian Council, Flextronics Corporation, Cisco and Hyundai Motor.

A devastating 8.0 earthquake struck China’s central Sichuan province on 12th May 2008. Official figures indicate that more than 68,000 people died in the earthquake with 374,000 injured and nearly 18,000 listed as missing. At least 15 million people were also displaced from their homes.