China - Taiwan Province

Rebuilding lives in Taiwan

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Hsinshe village nestles on the slopes of the mountain range of Taichung County in Taiwan. It is a peaceful place and there is little remaining evidence of the devastating earthquake which shook this community last September. Most of the villagers have resumed their everyday life.
The Pai family is, however, still struggling to reconstruct theirs. Pai Yuan Yu-Ping, 30, is worried about the future. Their house was completely destroyed in the earthquake, and her husband was seriously injured after being trapped under rubble for several hours before he was rescued. She had a narrow escape with her four children. "I don't know what the future will bring. I do not even know if my husband will ever be able to go back to work," Pai Yuan says.

The Pai's live together with 70 other families in similar circumstances in a compound of prefabricated houses funded by the Taiwan Red Cross Organization and the International Federation.

Hsu Chi-Tseng, 49, lives with his family of four in the same compound. They could only save a few personal things from the ruins of their house which they had just finished paying for a few months earlier. Hsu was made redundant later when the factory he worked in closed down after the disaster and the severance payments they receive from the authorities are the sole income of the family.

Despite this, Hsu is not one to sit around and wait for things to happen. He is the founder of a seven member self-management committee which runs the day to day administration of the compound. They take care of general affairs and repairs, and organize security patrols along the premises.

"We are quite happy here. We do not have to pay anything but our living expenses, so hopefully we can manage to rebuild our house in a year or two," Hsu says.

The Red Cross has so far funded the construction of about 1,500 temporary houses to accommodate earthquake victims, as well as providing the families with basic household items. It will also provide financial support to more than 5,000 families in Central Taiwan.

=A91997 International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies