Tuesday, May 12, 2009

5.12 - One Year On

If you've been in China recently, you would surely have seen many signs of the first anniversary, which falls today, of 5.12, the day on which a scale-8 earthquake hit Wenchuan, Sichuan province, exactly a year ago. Numerous events throughout the country, as well as in the papers, TV and internet, are commemorating this date. The President Hu Juntao and a Vice Premier have flown to the site specially for a memorial ceremony.
I can still remember how one year ago as I was sitting at my desk in my 29th floor apartment in Beijing, I could feel my apartment building move back and forth due to tremors from over a thousand miles away in Wenchuan (that's like the distance from San Francisco to Denver). Little did I know at that time that 69,000 people would lose their lives due to this single disaster, not to mention the 19,000 people missing. For comparison, hurricane Katrina 4 years ago, one of the worst natural disasters in the USA in modern times, left under 2000 people dead . So many stories of courage, perseverance, selflessness ( the photo shows a policewoman feeding someone else's baby), bravery, sorrow and grief have been told since then.

One year on, reconstruction of the whole area is in full swing. New homes have been built,
new schools to withstand scale 9 earthquakes are being built, commerce and tourism have started up again
and even the pandas are breeding, awaiting their new home after the Wolong Panda reserve was devastated also.
There is hope again for the region, and the children especially are being told to work hard and with determination for a better future.