The Red Cross Delivers in China’s Sichuan Province
In May 2008, I went to Chengdu to help coordinate FedEx relief efforts after the devastating Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan province. The earthquake, which hit on May 12 at 2:28pm, registered 8.0 on the richter scale and demolished homes and livelihoods. In its wake, tens of thousands of people were left dead and those who survived were homeless.
The relief efforts were very well organized and supplies got to where they were needed quickly and efficiently. Back then what amazed me most was the resilience of the people. Only days after the earthquake, makeshift homes had been established and people were back in the fields working. I was also very proud that FedEx provided the first donated private airlift of aid into Chengdu after the earthquake. Our network is designed to have the flexibility to act quickly during disasters and we were quickly able to deliver much needed supplies.
In April 2010, I had the honor of joining a Red Cross delegation to Sichuan to see the results of their reconstruction efforts. In two short years, the landscape had changed. Although at every turn, there was a reminder of the earthquake – a memorial or a collapsed bridge – there were also bright beacons of hope. New schools had been established – all earthquake-proof – and full of students who had received counseling and support. Homes had been built, which were heavily subsidized, and were reminiscent of small housing communities in the US, complete with a little lake in the center.
Again, what I found most remarkable were the people. The speed with which the Red Cross and other groups have been able to reconstruct the areas devastated by the earthquake is thanks in part to the people. At every turn, you can see members of the community helping, be it cleaning, painting or digging.
The Chinese government set forth a plan to complete reconstruction within three years, but already 95% of the projects are complete. And, despite the fact that the people of Sichuan are still rebuilding their lives, they are so grateful for all that people from around the world have done for them, that they are dedicated to helping others and have provided support to the victims of the earthquakes in Haiti and Qinghai. At one of the schools we visited, the students and teachers had collected RMB 8,000 for the earthquake victims in Qinghai.