Cynthia (left) and mother, residents of the Boladangko Village
In January this year, CEDAR commenced phase two of its relief and recovery work in central Sulawesi of Indonesia. Our partner PESAT has been working with six post-disaster communities and its people by providing assistance on livelihood, education, and psychosocial support.
Interviewed by Jojo Poon Edited by: Tsun Wan Yan and Jojo Poon
Last year, the country Nepal suffered a massive earthquake followed by a series of chaos triggered by the adoption of new constitution in September, resulting in blockade of borders between India and Nepal, causing shortage in many necessity supplies. It’s hard to imagine how the Nepalese could survive their harsh winter this year. Tang, a member of CEDAR’s Nepal earthquake relief team, previously spent eight years in Nepal. Not only she can speak the local dialect, she is also familiar with the local culture and church network. Her involvement in the relief work reveals many discoveries, and these discoveries enable us to better learn the situation of the quake victims so we can go deeper into their needs, challenges and difficulties.
Thanks to many churches in Hong Kong, our long time supporters, and participants of Barefoot Walk that because of your generous donations, CEDAR and our partners can provide timely relief to over 3,900 affected households in Nepal after the April massive earthquake. These are what were provided:
Education is very important to the development of children. For those living in poor and developing countries, education is a critical and an effective way to lift them out of the poverty trap. In most of CEDAR’s project countries in Asia and Africa, there are projects to improve the quality of education and its accessibility.
In Hong Kong, CEDAR has a different role to play in regard to education. Instead of working to improve children’s basic education, we strive to educate both children and adults on global poverty issues. Through talks, experiential workshops and field trips, we hope to help participants understand more about poverty and other related issues, and to explore how they could respond and contribute.
In early June, we were sent to Nepal for the earthquake relief. We joined our local partner Leadership Training Department (LTD) and brought food aid to a remote village in Gorkha, located near the epicenter of the first earthquake on April 25. It was already midnight when we arrived. All ladies were arranged to stay in a temporary metal hut while the men were to sleep on the ground in a literally wall-less church. What an experience!
CEDAR’s China programme staff talks with quake survivors about their hardships and needs.
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.
A tent made by quake survivors
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.
Villagers prepare the meals together in their temporary kitchen
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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