Relief aid for more than 5,000 earthquake-hit families in Sichuan

HFH China mobilizes volunteers and staff to distribute essential items in affected villages

HFH China’s volunteers helped to distribute items such as power torchlights (top) and quilts (bottom) to affected families.

HONG KONG (August 6, 2013) — One was a first-time Habitat volunteer while the other had been involved in several Habitat activities. Both, however, appreciated the first-hand experience of meeting earthquake-affected families and helping to distribute relief items in Sichuan province, southwest China.

On 20 April, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Lushan county of Ya’an city in Sichuan. According to the Chinese authorities, more than 190 people died and almost two million people are affected.

In the initial phase of its response, Habitat for Humanity China would focus on rebuilding homes and lives in Qionglai city, northeast of Ya’an. Qionglai was also the site of the 2009 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. None of the Habitat partner families in Sichuan had been affected by the Lushan earthquake.

Yang Na, a Sichuan native, never imagined that she would meet so many people in her first volunteer stint with Habitat during the weekend of 20-21 July 2013. “Our visit to people living in badly damaged houses made me realize the importance of our efforts to support families in need.”

For Hong Konger Ellen Chan, the trip to distribute relief items in three villages near to the epicenter of the 20 April earthquake was an eye-opener.

Chan said: “Compared to previous Habitat builds where we could only interact with a few home partners, we have visited villages and houses that were seriously damaged, reached out to families in areas affected by the earthquake and interacted with them during this trip. I have a clearer picture of the quake-hit areas and a deeper understanding of the situation of affected families.”

Both were part of a 24-strong volunteer team who helped to distribute relief items over two weekends in July 2013. The volunteers, who came from Hong Kong, Singapore and Sichuan, went to several villages in Gaohe and Tiantaishan towns.

More than 2,000 families in these towns each received a quilt, a power torchlight and a bottle of cooking oil. Altogether, 5,400 families were assisted in July by HFH China which aimed to help a total of 6,575 families.

The relief items were funded by a grant of HK1.595 million (US205,690) from the Hong Kong special administrative region government.

HFH China’s post-earthquake response was boosted by more than HK94,000 (about US12,120) raised from a charity basketball tournament held in Hong Kong in July 2013. Habitat still needs generous support for its ‘Sichuan Post-Earthquake Rebuilding Fund’. Please donate. )

HFH China has been working in Sichuan since a 7.9-magnitude earthquake hit the province in May 2008 and has built more than 1,500 homes in several towns. Habitat began operating in China in 2000 and now works in the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guangdong, Guangxi and Shanghai as well as Hong Kong. For more information, visit page.