After two and a half hours driving from Chengdu, we arrived in Ya’an City, Szechuan Province. Ya’an is a small city made of eight counties with a population of 1.5 million people, covering an area of 50,000, also famous for its panda reserve and for having a beautiful traditional bridge.
The purpose of the visit is to see the emergency response conducted by Save the Children after the earthquake in April 2013. Almost 99% of the buildings were affected, 197 people died, and over 1,400 were injured. After the earthquake, Save the Children worked with 40 non-governmental organisations and the One Foundation, a Chinese foundation set up by Jet Lee, a famous Kung Fu actor from China.
It is a really meaningful trip for us because local people’s real lives are even more important after the earthquake stops being on the news. In the past six months, Save the Children have been conducting psychosocial support training and helping children overcome the trauma and distress caused by the quake.
We depart in the morning from “Rain County” to Lu Shan County. Firstly we visited a kindergarten; so many adorable kids have been relocated into temporary houses. What surprised me the most is that in Lu Shan County, there are only two public kindergartens while the other 23 are all privately supported by local people and are less equipped and lack resources.
The kids are quite happy and curious to have us around, and we really see the effective outcome of the project “Healing and education through art” by Save the Children. We know it still takes time, but indeed we know it works when we see their shining smiles.
The second stop is the very first child-friendly space built in Lu Shan County after the earthquake. There are around 50 child-friendly spaces in Ya’an City, and IKEA Trading China supported them with furniture and soft toys for eight of them, about $20,000 USD in value.
This temporary centre where the child-friendly space is located can accommodate 700 people, who plan to live here for the next two years until their houses will be rebuilt. It is a really clean and well organized space for those families; they can have electronic heaters during winter and share a laundry line, kitchen and toilets.
The teacher appreciated the great support from IKEA China, and we saw the children really have fun in the play room; the toys make the room feel cozy and safe, which is the most important thing for the children.
This is the last stop for the field trip. Everything has gone well, and it is hard to say goodbye. We gain so much positive energy, although a lot of things still remain to be done.