By Debbie Lo, Caritas Hong Kong
Many thanks for the concerns and prayers for the victims of the Qinghai earthquake in mainland China!
Just a short note to share with you what Caritas-HK and our local partner, Xian Catholic Social Service Center have been doing for the earthquake survivors.
Right after the earthquake on 14 April, Mainland Service Desk of Caritas-HK had contacted our local partner, Xian Catholic Social Service Centre (XCSSC) to see what we can do for the victims. However, the altitude of the quake-hit area in Qinghai province is about 4,000 m. It is not easy to check the situation and needs over there within a short period of time. It was only 19 April that we received an update from XCSSC about their assessment trip in the quake-hit area in Qinghai which is as follow:
The weather in the quake-hit region is bad with snow and intermittent rain in these few days, which have increased the suffering of survivors sleeping outdoors after thousands of homes collapsed. The bad weather threatens transportation and relief work. Rescuers and survivors face frequent aftershocks. Up to now, more than 1200 aftershocks have shaken the region since the main earthquake. The local government is afraid that the icy weather will bring more misery in the days ahead.
In Saima camp, one of the shelter camps after the quake, which is located at the horse racing grounds of Jeigu town, there are much attention and relief items in comparison to other areas. In the outskirt of the town, there is Baizha camp, another shelter camp after the quake. There are about 3,500 survivors. Most of them are migrant workers from other counties.
Due to the poor physical and geographical environment, the Catholic social service centres from different provinces are working in collaboration in the quake-hit area in order to help each other. They can only take rest in the cars during night time in the frigid weather.
The parishes in Hong Kong are now raising funds for the quake survivors for the time being. Caritas-HK is going to sponsor XCSSC to get some relief materials (e.g. floor, rice, cooking oil, quilts, cotton clothes, medicines, etc.) to the quake-hit areas later this week. They will work with the local NGOs in organizing purchasing and distribution of materials to the survivors. We will also sponsor some sisters and volunteers from Xian to provide medical and counseling service to the survivors in the shelter camps. Reconstruction projects will only be carried out after the relief work is over.