Appeal for help to rebuild in Sichuan

Non-profit organisation Habitat for Humanity is asking Hongkongers for donations to help fund the rebuilding of quake-damaged homes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 May, 2013, 5:27am

In a race against time, a charity is attempting to rebuild quake-damaged homes in Sichuan before the arrival of winter, and the group has asked Hongkongers for help.

"We've identified two heavily hit areas whose people and government have been the most receptive to our offer of aid," said Kester Yim, managing director of Habitat for Humanity China.

The organisation wants to rebuild 500 homes in two villages seriously damaged by last month's earthquake - one village in Tiantaishan and another in Gaohe town - and is appealing for donations to fund the project.

The quake, centred in Yaan , Lushan county, killed 195 people, disrupted the lives of 129,000, and caused about 2.8 billion yuan (HK$3.5 billion) of losses in Qionglai city, where the two villages - Maping and Jingkou - are, just five kilometres from the quake's epicentre.

Many of the villagers are low-income farmers without means to rebuild their homes, Yim said. The houses, about 800 square feet, will require 80,000 yuan each to restore. About 330 families live in Maping, with 676 in Jingkou.

Yim could not say when the project would be completed as the government was still assessing the area to ensure the land is geologically stable.

The charity has been rebuilding homes in Sichuan since the 7.9-magnitude quake of 2008 which killed 87,000. The homes it built after that disaster were still standing after the Yaan quake.

When the Hong Kong government suggested donating public money to the victims of the latest disaster, many Hongkongers objected, saying it would likely end up in the pockets of mainland officials. Yim stressed his organisation has practices in place to ensure donations are not misused.

"We make sure that we reach an agreement with the community about who the construction team will be and where the materials are coming from," Yim said. "When we send the money, the villagers themselves have to sign and recognise that they get the money."