Sichuan province is a region of cultural, culinary, and geographical diversity and is China’s 4th largest province with over 80.5 million people. Throughout history, Sichuan has played an influential and important role in Chinese culture and despite massive changes to China’s economic landscape, still arguably remains China’s “heartland.” The region is known throughout China for its rugged and diverse terrain which has made for a very resilient and adaptable mentality for those who proudly call Sichuan home. However, the beauty of this rugged terrain, expressed so prominently by its jagged peaks of the Tibetan plateau, was a result of Longmen-Shan Fault; one of Asia’s most active fault lines.
April 20th, 2014 marks a year since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Ya’an in Sichuan, on its heels of the six-year anniversary of the 8.0 magnitude Sichuan earthquake that struck Wenchuan further north. While the region was still working on the reconstruction efforts from the Wenchuan earthquake, the region was forced to shift its efforts towards saving lives in Ya’an. The resilient nature so ingrained in the people of Sichuan was challenged once again.
Immediately after the earthquake hit, Sichuan residents, aid workers, philanthropic organizations, and governments all around the world began to coordinate to bring emergency aid as quickly as possible to the region. At first, basic needs such as providing food, shelter, water, and health services in a difficult to access area were most pressing. Give2Asia worked with multiple organizations to coordinate the funds and resources in order to provide this emergency aid.
As the days slowly passed, the need for immediate and emergency aid gradually faded and Give2Asia started focusing its efforts towards longer term recovery projects. Having worked in China for many years with well-established local organizations, Give2Asia has formed many long and worthwhile friendships in China throughout the years. Give2Asia was able to use its robust network of partners and previous contacts to find out what the most pressing needs were for specific communities. This was done through our dialogue with people and organizations on the ground in Lushan and Ya’an. This approach, with Give2Asia acting as a bridge, ensures that the funds and re-sources are effectively distributed to provide needs that are most important to the communities at that specific place and time. Give2Asia’s strength and expertise is in understanding the local cultural context. With needs being so contextual and specific, Give2Asia ensures continued dialogue with our programs and partners on the ground to make sure the most effective approaches for long-term recovery projects are being employed through the entire project.
Long-term recovery projects are not glamorous and don’t attract headlines. Very rarely do irrigation projects, or teacher training programs ever make it to the news over the first responders and search and rescue teams. However, it is the long-term recovery effort that will determine the future mental and physical well-being, economic health, and character for the people of Sichuan and the region itself. As mentioned before, the people of Sichuan are resilient and adaptable and have been dealing with adverse circumstances for millennia. The people of the region know what needs to be done, thus Give2Asia’s goal in regards to long-term recovery from this earthquake is to ensure a greater and meaningful impact in its support to the people and community.
This report is a brief summary of a few notable grants and organizations Give2Asia supported in the relief and recovery effort of the 2013 Sichuan earthquake. We are extremely proud of the positive results of these projects, but also under-stand that much of the work has only just begun. While organizations like Give2Asia are working to provide education and healthcare, there is still an overall shortage of schools and hospitals in the area, many of them still needing attention after collapsing in the earthquake. Many people who witnessed the destruction of the earthquake, especially children, are experiencing psychological trauma and have no mental health experts to consult in these difficult times. Irrigation projects were disrupted and the ecology of the area was disturbed and farmers throughout the region are having difficulty with their crops. These issues, among others, are a direct result from the earthquake and can only be approached with a thoughtful long-term recovery strategy in mind. Give2Asia plans to remain a helpful resource for the people and organizations in the Sichuan region to help continue these rebuilding efforts with the voices and desires of the community as our compass.