Apart from causing severe damage to infrastructures, the Sichuan Yaan Quake which took place on 20 April had resulted in serious psychological trauma among quake affected communities. In May, CEDAR’s China programme staff visited Shuangshi Town in Lushan County, Sichuan and discovered that many quake survivors have symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) such as intense fear, sleeplessness, irascibility, agitation, etc.
The powerful 7 magnitude earthquake not only destroyed the new three-storey house of Li Qiong and her husband, it also caused the death of her nearly one-month old baby boy. After this tragedy, Li Qiong seldom talk with neighbours. She has no facial expression while looking at villagers playing with their children or grandchildren. The presence of CEDAR’s staff provides a chance for her to pour out her sadness.
Shuangshi Town is located at mountainous area which lags behind in economic growth. Young villagers usually go to other places for work, leaving the elderly, women and children there. With limited medical service in remote mountainous villages, many elderly who live alone always worry about their health; because of low education level and the lack of social supporting network, local female mostly feel helpless to take care of the elderly and young children on their own. In addition to the psychological trauma caused by the quake, there is an urgent need of providing timely care and counseling among affected villagers.
Uncle Yang, 67-year old, lives in a tent with two grandchildren. It took him 18 years to refurbish and built his house. Unfortunately, the second floor has been totally collapsed after the quake. While talking about future, uncle Yang felt hopeless.
In order to save resources and address environmental concern, local government has decided not to build temporary prefabricated houses for quake survivors. This implies homeless quake victims may need to live in temporary tents for more than a year till their new houses are constructed or repaired. It is easy to imagine the kind of physical and psychological threats that quake victims will face when living long time in the open area.
Tents are set up in the field and muddy land. In daytime, villagers go out for work. At night, it is not easy for them to sleep well with mosquitoes, insects, raindrops, sound of snoring, crying children and the threat of aftershock.
CEDAR received a grant from HKSAR Disaster Relief Fund Advisory Committee for the second phase of relief distribution, working with local churches & Christian groups in Sichuan to deliver bottles of oil, plastic sheets, metal food tanks and sanitary items for women, targeting 2 administrative villages with 426 household in Tianquan County and 4 administrative villages with 2,880 households in Lushan County.
For the post-disaster rehabilitation, CEDAR will provide case referral and counseling service, organise community self-help groups, conduct community education activities, provide psychological and social support to children and youth, elderly and women in disaster areas to reduce the phenomenon of PTSD.
Please continue to remember the hardships and needs of quake victims, support our service among the quake affected communities done in partnership with Sichuan churches and Christian groups and to walk with the victims and rebuild their living together.
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