China

Remembering the Sichuan earthquake 2008

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3 years ago, on May 12 2008, an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 struck Sichuan, China. Also known as the Wenchuan earthquake, named after the county near the epicenter, the earthquake caused widespread damage and devastation both in terms of deaths and the loss of the infrastructure vital to maintaining livelihoods. The earthquake caused the collapse of numerous schools and public buildings, crushing whole classes and trapping thousands for days.

The Amity Foundation’s initial response was quick, providing direct relief to victims and building a foundation for people to reconstruct their lives. Amity was able, through public and organizational donations, to provide emergency relief supplies worth CNY 10 million in the worst hit areas in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, benefiting more that 400,000 people.

The work of the Amity Foundation had, and continuous to have, a long-term vision, focused also on the reconstruction effort. One of the main effects of the earthquake was the destruction of serious damage to houses in the area, leaving millions homeless in the direct aftermath of the earthquake. The rebuilding effort exceeds local communities’ financial means and Amity stepped in to cover the local shortfall. For example, the Amity Foundation, supported by Deloitte, Touche, Tomatsu, infused CNY 1.7 million into the affected provinces to build much-needed infrastructure. A large part of this grant went towards rebuilding the collapsed Yuewang Miao School in Qishan Country, Shaanxi. Other companies and experts have also been intimately involved with the reconstruction projects, contributing expertise and aid targeted at vulnerable groups such as single-parent children, providing teaching equipment and other essential tools to help the affected.

At a local level, the Amity Foundation often targeted areas where had a presence and were aware of the local needs, such as in Woyun Village. In this village, Amity helped rebuild the basic infrastructure such as the local water tower, but also committed to financially supporting the reconstruction by giving grants to affected families. These were able to receive CNY 5,000 per person from Amity; capped at CNY 30,000 per household. Moreover, in order to provide extra help to the very young, the elderly and the extremely poor, vulnerable families will receive an additional CNY 1,000 in order to help them rebuild their homes. The village committee, on receiving the funds, expressed their gratitude, saying that “The Amity Foundation has brought boundless compassion to Mianzhu, our county, and has provided help to Woyun, our village, at the time of our greatest need, warming the hearts of the local people.” In Woyun Village, the Amity reconstruction effort was already part of the community fabric and the office became a source of trust and community cohesion. The Amity reconstruction effort therefore also went beyond just the physical needs of the affected, showing “Love in Action” by holistically responding also to the emotional, mental and spiritual needs of the people.