April 22 2013

Earthquake in China: SOS Children's Villages ready to help

22/04/2013 – A massive earthquake hit the Sichuan Province in China on Saturday 20 April 2013. Just 100 kilometres from the epicentre, children and SOS mothers felt the the earth shake at the SOS Children’s Village Chengdu. Just as in 2008, after a far more deadly earthquake hit the same area, SOS Children’s Villages has offered its help.

 

In emergencies SOS Children's Villages cares for children ©REUTERS/Stringer, www.alertnet.org
How many people need help remains unclear 

 

Just a few minutes after eight o’clock in the morning on 20 April 2013, a massive earthquake hit Sichuan Province in China, destroying many homes and killing more than 200 people, according to news reports. As access to villages in Lushan county, a remote area where the epicentre of the quake was located, is still heavily restricted in order to give priority to rescua operations, it is too early to tell just how many people have lost their homes and are in need of assistance.

 

 

 

The 2008 erthquake killed 70.000 people, SOS provided care to unaccompanied children © SOS Archives
SOS Children's Village Chengdu is 100km from the epicentre  © SOS Archives
Shocks in SOS Children’s Village

 

The SOS Children’s Villages Chengdu is just over 100 kilometres away from Lushan. “We felt strong shocks; buildings were shaking tremendously. After the first shock, we immediately checked all the family houses, but aside from a few tiles that dropped off a roof, there was no damage and nobody was injured” said a spokesman for the village. “We have taken instant measures to reassure children and mothers and have ensured the safety of the village”, he said.

SOS Children’s Villages has offered authorities to care for unaccompanied children who may have lost their parents in the disaster and is preparing to offer their help in the rescue work that will take place over the next days and weeks.

 

Caring for unaccompanied children is a prioirity for SOS Children’s Villages © SOS Archives
Co-workers and young people helped wherever they could after the deadly earthquake of early 2008 © SOS Archives

 

Help offered once more

 

After an even more deadly erthquake hit the same area in 2008, killing some 70.000 people, SOS Children’s Villages offered to temporarily care for unaccompanied children and shelter any displaced people with nowhere else to turn. Volunteers from the village - both co-workers and young people from the SOS Youth facility - helped as psychological consultants, drivers or translators at hospitals and in the disaster area. Several hundred children attended two workshops offered in the aftermath of the quake to help them process the traumatic experience.

SOS Children’s Villages has been working in Chengdu since 1997 and operates an SOS Children’s Village with 96 children; a youth facility with 24 young people and an SOS Kindergarten attended by 136 children.