Saturday, May 31, 2008

Earthquake Fundraiser At NYC's Jing Fong Restaurant

Licensed acupuncurists in NY makes donation.

FCC families from Long Island.

Tourists who just returned from Chengdu, Dujiangyan, etc.

FCC Cultural Day May 2008

Gladney Center for Adoption donated 500 books of Chinese culture for FCC families.

Gongzhan was invited to interprete on the stage

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Half the Sky Earthquake Update - May 26-28

First, an update on the airlift to remote Aba Prefecture. No less than 40 uniformed soldiers arrived at the Chengdu CWI yesterday to load two big trucks with emergency goods for the 1,000 stranded children of Aba. We’re waiting now for confirmation of the air drop.

This week HTS also erected a giant Big Top at the Chengdu CWI to aid within take and shelter for new arrivals.

Ma Lang and Yang Lei, two of our intrepid team members traveled to Leigu, in hard-hit Beichuan, along with some young volunteers from the Jiuzhou Stadium. They knew the situation was dire, as this is the site of one of the “quake lakes” threatening to overflow. But they also knew there were more than 2,000 children of all ages in those villages and they needed help. I am so happy and relieved to tell you that the mission was a huge success!

I have placed photos of raising the big tent, loading relief goods for Aba and delivery of goods to Leigu on our website. Please visit

On Saturday, after we complete delivery of balance of requested relief goods, we will erect a second and even larger Big Top tent in the largest refugee settlement at Dujiangyan City, close to the epicenter of the earthquake. This will become a huge Half the Sky children’s activity center for refugee children of all ages, complete with furnishings, toys, computers, areas for art and dramatic play and reading and quiet talk, everything that a HTS center offers. With your help, this center will serve thousands of children as their lives and homes are rebuilt. And, although we’ve already been busily working and planning, it will mark the official beginning of the second phase of our efforts - addressing the current and long term emotional needs of the children.

I want to tell you more about the Sichuan Caregiver Training Project that HTS has launched in partnership with the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the US-based National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement. Thanks to one of our supporters, we were put in touch with David Schonfeld, director of the NCSCB and perhaps the world’s foremost authority on child bereavement. Since its inception after 9/11, the NCSCB has counseled and been a source for governments, schools and organizations, especially those confronted by large numbers of children traumatized by disaster. From hurricanes to wars to school shootings, this organization has a long history and understanding of child trauma, what to expect and how best to respond.

Half the Sky is so fortunate to have the NCSCB’s help as we embark on this journey. There are so many unknowns for all of us - We at HTS have never tried to provide services mid-disaster - and our advisers from the NCSCB have not much experience working in China. Knowing we can rely on each other's expertise, I feel confident that HTS, and other NGOs that we hope will join us in this effort, can have substantial impact, both in these early days and down the road as the long process of recovery unfolds.

During the weekend, I toured hard-hit towns, children’s shelters and orphanages with the MCA, trying to get an overview of the situation. HTS’director, child development, Ma Lang has, of course, been in Sichuan since May 16 on our behalf and was able to give us a great deal of information and insight. This week, a team of seasoned HTS field supervisors, one from each of our programs, is doing a more detailed assessment under the guidance of Ma Lang: Zhang Yuxia, Yang Lei, Zhou Dan and Anni Wang. They will give us their full report on Sunday, but here’s an excerpt from Annion the first day of observation. The need for trauma-training for caregivers is immense:

“In the tent school, as I was looking around the room, my eyes caught a little girl who was holding her school bag very tightly. She had one of the saddest faces I have ever seen and it felt like she didn’t want to be in the classroom. She kept holding her bag and looking at the exit behind,as if she were waiting for someone. When the ‘fun activity class’ started again, she still held her bag, but then later put it down and tried to follow the teacher’s instructions. She was one of the shortest children in class but sat in the back row.“

In the ‘fun class’, the teacher kept saying: “if you are happy, smile….And clapping his hands and he said that a few times walking round the room but the little girl I mentioned didn’t smile. Not even once. I was not sure which of the children in the room were smiling because they were happy or because they were sort of asked to smile. However, I suppose the fun activities will be a distraction (at least for the time being) for children who may have lost a parent or close relative. When I was leaving the room, I waved to the little girl and she sadly waved back.”On

June 2-3, we will host a workshop for all HTS field supervisors,program directors and representatives from the MCA and CAB as well as two expert field advisers who will supervise field work in the next phase. Leading the workshop on behalf of NCSCB: Robin Gurwitch, PhD - Professor in Dept. of Pediatrics at University of Oklahoma, Program Coordinator for the US National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement; Marleen Wong,PhD - Director of Crisis Counseling and Intervention Services at the Los Angeles Unified School District; and Suh Chen Hsiao, LCSW PPSC -Psychiatric Social Worker, Team Leader at the Los Angeles Unified School District, Specialist in Crisis Intervention.

On June 4-14, with expert advisors - Pi-Nian Chang PhD, pediatric psychologist at the University of Minnesota, Dan Zhang, MD, PhD,psychologist, counselor, Vancouver Community College, worked with survivors of Tangshan earthquake – HTS will commence field trainings for caregivers, coordinated by Sichuan provincial CAB.

Afterwards, Half the Sky will continue to work closely with government and the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement to develop along-term plan based both on the NCSCB’s extensive experience with the effect on children of similar catastrophic events and also what is learned during the two week period in the field. It is sincerely hoped that,during the next two weeks, many, many children will be reunited with, if not their parents, surviving family members. For those children who,sadly, cannot be reunited, Half the Sky will continue to assist as best as it can to help mitigate the long-term effects of this disaster.

Half the Sky is a small organization. We are limited by our charter to serving orphaned children. We hope that other child-focused NGOs will join us and the government in outreach. There are many thousands of children who have surviving relatives but who are nevertheless traumatized and need help.

Rebecca Chang grew up in an orphanage in China and, with HTS’ Big Sisters Program support, went to university. When she graduated, we offered he ran internship in our Beijing office. She has now become a field supervisor in the Big Sisters Program and is helping us now in Sichuan. She understands the children of this tragedy perhaps better than any of us. She sent us this story:
“The place was so dead when we arrived, everything was still, only wind was blowing. I saw a boy standing in front of the rubble of the school fora long time without a blink. I went up to him and said hi.I asked: which grade were you in?He said quietly: Fourth grade.I squatted and said: Why are you always standing here?I saw tears coming up in his eyes. He said: My classmates are gone.Teacher Gao got injured because of me!I didn’t know what I could say that would make him feel better. I just reached out my hand and held his. His hand was cold, so cold. When I was about to leave, I was trying to hold back my tears and asked: What do you want to do the most now?He lowered his head and answered in a shaking voice,‘I want to go to school, but my school is not here any more.’”

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bright Futures Camp - China

Back in 2002, Gladney began Bright Futures Camps as a way to raise awareness about older children living in orphanages. Thousands of children remain in orphanages, and sadly, the older a child gets, the less likely they are to experience the gift of family through adoption. With its first camp, 11 Russian children traveled to the Dallas/Fort area for an opportunity to stay with host families and experience family life. Since then, children from Russia and Ethiopia have traveled to the United States for a chance at one simple pleasure -- experiencing what it means to have a loving family and home.

Gladney is pleased to announce Bright Futures Camp - China, and a change in destination. Rather than bringing children to the United States, this year adventurous prospective parents are invited to travel to China. What an exciting opportunity to brighten the life of a child living in an orphanage, and experience the culture first hand.

Based on Gladney’s successful US based Bright Futures Camp, this camp offers a fun-filled week of camp activities including site seeing and the opportunity to spend time with a loving prospective family. Being in China offers some additional benefits to both parents and children. By going to China, families can spend more time with their child before placement and have the opportunity to experience Chinese culture first hand –- both of these experiences will help build a strong foundation and bond. Additionally, because the children remain on familiar turf, they experience less culture shock and feel more at ease with prospective parents.

For more information about Bright Futures Camp – China, please log on to If you or someone you know might be interested in any of Gladney’s Bright Futures Camps, please contact Elizabeth Johnson at

Monday, May 26, 2008

Half the Sky Earthquake Update - May 24-25

I want first to give you an update on our efforts to get food and shelter to the 1,000 orphaned and displaced children in Aba. The roads are now closed. We asked our colleagues at the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) to see if we can possibly bring the desperately-needed goods in by helicopter. A couple of hours ago, moments after the latest giant aftershock, we got good news – a helicopter for Aba tomorrow! More soon -

Yesterday morning, when I arrived in Chengdu, I was invited by MCA to visit some of the hardest-hit sites. We visited Dujiangyan – very close to the epicenter. It was a painful day (I’ve put a few photos on our website - some just too sad to write about) but I was also heartened to see both how quickly the government has come in and tried to take care of the basics - building thousands of temporary shelters and schools – and how the people have come together to help each other. A sign in one of the tent cities reads, “The earthquake has destroyed our homes but it can’t break our spirit.”

Today we visited Mianyang Zitong CWI. A 6.4 aftershock struck moments before we arrived at the orphanage. All of the children were rushed outside and, in what’s become routine now, they all sat calmly in little chairs. There were 8 new arrivals – all of them had lost their parents. It seems they are not brought to the orphanages until officials are fairly certain that they will not be claimed by extended family. One little boy told us in a matter-of-fact way that both his parents were killed. MaLang, HTS’ director of child development, after days assisting the displaced children staying at the Jiuzhou stadium observed, “From the volunteers’ and counselors’ perspectives, the children’s most common signs of being traumatized included insomnia, nightmares, tearfulness,indifference, and refusing to eat. In the first few days, the volunteers in the stadium’s 'inner circle (a holding place for separated children)had to search bathrooms and corridors for children who hid there and refused to eat. The volunteers told me it was heartbreaking to see the children’s eyes and persuade them that they should eat.”

We visited the “inner circle” at Jiuzhou stadium today. Almost all of the children who had not yet been identified by family members had been transferred to children’s shelters. The Mianyang Civil Affairs director told us that many, many children had been reunited – if not with their parents, then with extended families. One of our colleagues at the MCA told us that of the 200 children who’d been brought to shelter at the Chengdu Medical College, only 18 had not been reunited with extended family. Today we met a girl who has become famous in China because she was interviewed on television by Wen JiaBao. It was believed her parents had died. He tried to comfort her. Soon after, her parents were located. Although they haven’t yet been able to get to Mianyang to pick her up,today we met one happy little girl. The media has been making much of the idea of thousands of orphans. Our friends at MCA are not certain this is true and, to be honest, the situation is still too fluid to pin down the numbers. There are certainly many, many children with uncertain status. And they are traumatized and very much need consistent, caring support.

Provincial CAB (Civil Affairs Bureau) has begun the process of sending displaced children to structurally-sound colleges, military bases, welfare institutions, and other facilities. In less-stable areas, where there are fears of flooding and environmental issues, children housed in some temporary facilities are being transferred, yet again. Almost every orphanage has been advised that they should prepare for new arrivals. We met a few sad little faces yesterday at the Chengdu CWI; they are told to expect at least 100 more. The director at Zitong CWI told me the same thing. And so did the director at Guiyang CWI in Guizhou! The truth is, I believe, nobody yet knows.

These past days, the MCA has been working to draft recommendations for the care of displaced and orphaned children. I believe they will release an official statement soon. After two days traveling with MCA officials, one thing is clear - government is extremely concerned that every effort be made to reunite children with surviving relatives before adoption bynon-relatives of orphaned children is even considered.

Meanwhile, tent schools are quickly being established wherever children are sheltered. There is a great desire to give the children the comfort of settling into a routine and regular attendance at school is seen askey. I visited a large tent city in Dujiangyan yesterday and the scene at4:30 pm, with children streaming out of the temporary school toward dozensof waiting parents, was identical to that taking place in Chinese citiesand towns every day.

HTS is working hard to complete its emergency relief efforts and turn itsattention towards the effort for which it is better equipped – helping orphaned children begin to recover emotionally. By the end of the comingweek, with your extraordinary generosity and the help of the amazing crewat Gung-Ho Films, we will have purchased and delivered more than 30 tonsof tents, medicines, food and formula, children’s clothing, diapers andother infant supplies. With the helicopter to Aba and the purchase todayof an emergency vehicle to transport orphaned and displaced children for 9counties and one city, we will have answered every urgent request to takecare of the children’s basic needs. Now we move on to try to addressthose needs no less urgent, but more elusive in every way.

Tomorrow (Monday, May 26) Half the Sky will launch its Sichuan CaregiversTraining Project. I am thrilled, honored and very, very excited to tellyou that HTS will work under the guidance of the foremost child trauma andbereavement specialists in the world, the National Center on School Traumaand Bereavement Based at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, but comprising aninternational network of child trauma experts, the Center grew from thetragedy of the Terrorist Attacks of 9/11 and has served as a resourceduring hurricanes, school shootings, airline disasters and wars.

Together with NCSTB and MCA, HTS will hold a two-day planning workshop, June 3-4 in Chengdu. Three experts from the Center will lead theworkshop. Attending will be four volunteer pediatric psychologists andpsychiatric social workers, HTS team of 15 field supervisors, our programdirectors and officials from MCA and Sichuan CAB. That will be the startof what will likely be a long-term project to help children orphaned bythe disaster to recover and rebuild their lives.

I’ll send along further details of the Caregivers Training Project soon. It’s almost midnight and I’m exhausted. I’ve had two days on the roadthrough a landscape filled with aching sadness, determination and hope.

AP Reports 1-child Policy Has Exceptions After China Quake

BEIJING - Chinese officials said Monday that the country's one-child policy exempts families with a child killed, severely injured or disabled in the country's devastating earthquake.

Those families can obtain a certificate to have another child, the Chengdu Population and Family Planning Committee in the capital of hard-hit Sichuan province said.

With so many shattered families asking questions, the Chengdu committee is clarifying existing one-child policy guidelines, said a committee official surnamed Wang.

"There are just a lot of cases now, so we need to clarify our policies," said Wang, who declined to elaborate.

The May 12 quake was particularly painful to many Chinese because it killed so many only children. The earthquake has left more than 65,000 people dead so far, with more than 23,000 missing. Officials have not been able to estimate the number of children killed.

Chinese couples who have more than one child are commonly punished by fines. The announcement says that if a child born illegally was killed in the quake, the parents will no longer have to pay fines for that child — but the previously paid fines won't be refunded.

If the couple's legally born child is killed and the couple is left with an illegally born child under the age of 18, that child can be registered as the legal child — an important move that gives the child previously denied rights including free nine years of compulsory education.

China's one-child policy was launched in the late 1970s to control China's exploding population and ensure better education and health care. The law includes certain exceptions for ethnic groups, rural families and families where both parents are only children.

The government says the policy has prevented an additional 400 million births, but critics say it has also led to forced abortions, sterilizations and a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio as local authorities pursue sometimes severe birth quotas set by Beijing and families abort girls out of a traditional preference for male heirs.

Though commonly called a one-child policy, the rules offer a welter of exceptions and loopholes, some of them put into practice because of widespread opposition to the limits.

For example, in large parts of rural China, most families are allowed a second-child, especially if the first was a girl. Local officials often have wide discretion on enforcement, a fact that has made the policy susceptible to corruption.

Many Chinese have shown interest in adopting earthquake orphans, and Monday's announcement says there are no limits on the number of earthquake orphans a family can adopt. The adoptions, or even a future birth to a family that adopts an orphan, will not face the limitations of the one-child policy.

Officials estimated last week that the quake left about 4,000 orphans, but they warned they would make every effort to connect children with other family members.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

LA Times: Faces Of The China Earthquake Series 3

LA Times: Faces Of The China Earthquake Series 2

LA Times: Faces Of The China Earthquake Series 1

China Daily Reports: Bechuan Town To Be Memorial

Beichuan county town to be made a memorial
( /Agencies)
Updated: 2008-05-23 09:16

Premier Wen Jiabao is back in Sichuan's earthquake-savaged counties again, and he reportedly has decided not to rebuild the largest town in Beichuan County destroyed by the quake on May 12. Sources said that the town's towers of rubble now will be built as a memorial park in place for generations of future visitors to witness. An elevated view of the earthquake site is seen in Beichuan, Sichuan province Thursday, May 22, 2008. The whole countyside was closed off on Tuesday after official warnings of fresh tremors. [Agencies]
Tucked in a steep river valley atop the unstable Longmen Fault, the onetime Beichuan town of 20,000 is in too vulnerable a location to rebuild, officials said.
"Experts say the only option is to move the town and keep the remains," said Zhang Jie, press spokesman for Mianyang municipality, which oversees the town.
The State Council, which Premier Wen heads, will make a final decision on whether to turn Beichuan into a memorial by the end of the month, Zhang said.
He added that survivors of the quake in Beichuan have been relocated to the nearby cities of Mianyang and Anxian and will not be permitted to return to their former home. Soldiers are guarding entry to the ruined city, barring access due to fears of infection and concern that a river blocked by landslides above the town, forming two lakes, may suddenly burst, letting a deluge down the valley.
Of Beichuan Town's former inhabitants, about 8,600 are known to have died and another 5,894 remain missing.
The rest appear to have survived.
China won't be the first country to seal off a town devastated by natural disaster.
In 1985, a volcanic eruption melted an icecap on an Andean peak, triggering a mudslide that buried the town of Armero in Colombia, killing 23,000 people. The site of the buried town was later declared "holy ground" and turned into a commemorative park.
A huge memorial at Beichuan might be a fitting tribute to a calamity that is likely to be seen by historians as a watershed moment for China, an event that saw the nation mobilize in massive numbers to help the victims, and possibly a hiccup in the ancient eastern country's endeavor to regain economic prosperity.
Tens of thousands of ordinary Chinese volunteers have flocked to the quake zone in Sichuan Province to offer varied services.
"People are giving their help in any way they can. If they have money, they are giving money," said Zhu Chujun, who is part of a volunteer team from the eastern city of Hangzhou offering psychological counseling to victims.

AP Reports: Earthquake Pandas Arrive in Beijing For Olympics

BEIJING - Eight pandas arrived safely in Beijing on Saturday after a long journey from their damaged reserve near the epicenter of last week's China earthquak

The pandas will spend the next six months at the Beijing Zoo on a special Olympics visit that was planned long before the quake.

The pandas have been closely watched because they seemed nervous after the earthquake, sometimes eating and sleeping less. But they appeared lively after they were moved into their exhibit space at the Beijing Zoo on Saturday evening, even putting their paws on the glass separating them from the media and the public.

"I'm not sure about the mental state of the pandas right now," Ye Mingxia of the Beijing Zoo told The Associated Press earlier this week. "We will have to carefully observe them after they arrive."

But Wang Pengyan, deputy head of the Wolong Giant Panda Reserve, assured the state-run Xinhua News Agency that the pandas were fine. "The pandas have recovered from any nervousness about the quake and are all in good condition," he said Saturday.

The eight, two-year-old pandas were flown Saturday afternoon by special plane to Beijing from Chengdu, the capital of hard-hit central Sichuan province.

Their home at the world-famous Wolong reserve was badly damaged in the May 12 quake, which was centered just 20 miles away in a damp region of narrow, winding mountain roads.

By Saturday, the quake had killed more than 60,000 people — including five staff members of the panda reserve.

Conditions remained so bad at the reserve this week that the Chinese government arranged an emergency shipment of about 5 tons of bamboo for the hungry pandas, almost 60 of them, at Wolong. Two pandas have been missing since the quake.

The panda is a powerful symbol of China, and the country engages in what's called "panda politics" by lending out the rare animal as a gesture of goodwill. Among the pandas found safe at Wolong after the quake were Tuantuan and Yuanyuan, two pandas that have been offered to Taiwan.

About 1,590 pandas are living in the wild, mostly in Sichuan and the western province of Shaanxi. An additional 180 have been bred in captivity.

The Wolong reserve is part of efforts to breed giant pandas in hopes of increasing the species' chances of survival.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Half the Sky Earthquake Update - May 23

Today we were starting the process of wrapping up the major portion of our orphanage relief efforts. With your help, we have purchased and delivered or are in the process of delivering huge amounts of medicines and medical supplies, tents, cribs, cots, bedding, baby formula, diapers, kids clothing and shoes, rice, noodles, cooking oil, water, powdered milk,bowls, cups, towels, mosquito repellent and much, much more. As we finalized plans to ship, then bring in engineers to erect two giant tents to house hundreds of newly orphaned children, we got an emergency call from Aba Civil Affairs Bureau.

They are caring for approximately 1,000 orphaned and displaced children,most of whom are 7-12 years old. There are over 100 infants. They’d been placing the children in local shelters but had just received news that 70more children are on the way. There are no more tents and no more beds for them. Further, they urgently need powdered milk and diapers. And they need foods that don’t require cooking as most of their cooking stoves and supplies have been destroyed. They need so much they can’t even give us an estimate.

The roads to Aba are dangerous but the need is tremendous. We have obtained the necessary road pass and organized a convoy of three trucks. Our senior preschool field supervisor, Yang Lei, will be leading the effort along with Aba drivers who are familiar with the dangers. It’s a 3day round-trip and they leave at dawn. I am so thankful our Half the Sky staff are as tough as they are!

Stop presses! -- Just as I finished writing the above, I received the following email. The situation continues to be ever-changing:“While everyone has done an absolutely incredible job pulling this urgent shipment together, it simply cannot leave tomorrow morning as we've all been pushing for. The road between Chengdu and Aba is simply too dangerous to travel, based on all the information we are able to gather. While it hasn't registered on the news, nearly 200 people have died in the last few days along these roads due to mudslides caused by the early summer rains. Communications are, of course, sketchy, and we know Yang Lei has her permit to travel the roads, but all reports are now that it's just too dangerous and too unsure to risk take such a risk. The Director of the Aba Institution agrees and the Director of the Chengdu Institution agrees.

“The efforts you've all put in today on behalf of the babies at Aba will not be in vain. We will monitor the road situation very, very closely. Civil Affairs wants us to get in, we want to go in, and the moment we feel it is safe, we will go in. The good news is we've managed to amass everything on Aba's "needs list" in one day and it's staged at Chengdu SWI and ready to load on trucks. The items that were scheduled to load on the Aba trucks will stay at Chengdu, ready to travel to Aba when conditions allow. THESE ITEMS ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE IN THE COMING DAYS, THEY ARE TO BE KEPT TOGETHER, AND SEPARATE FROM ALL OTHER INVENTORY,AND WILL TRAVEL TO ABA AS SOON AS CONDITIONS ALLOW. This is a very difficult decision for us to make, but we simply can't risk life to save life.”You can see that the relief effort is not quite over. I will keep you all posted.

Meanwhile, we have spent almost exactly the amount we have raised in donations (just over US$300,000. And we have not yet really begun the second critical phase of our operation in Sichuan: training caregivers and volunteers to care for and address the non-material needs of displaced and newly-orphaned children. There are billions being donated for rebuilding. But we need help putting young lives back together.

Here’s a note from Ma Lang, who was at a “model” relief shelter today talking to newly-orphaned children:I talked to a junior high school girl. Here is part of our conversation:Lang: Do you know there are psychologists and counselors there to help people?Girl: Yes.Lang: Would you be willing to talk to a psychologist?Girl: Yes.Lang: What would you like to talk about with the psychologist?Girl: Things that make me happy. Like happy stories and movies.Lang: What do not you want the psychologist to ask?Girl: [pause] Do not ask me where my families are!P.S. There is little coordination among the 10 plus counselor groups at the shelter. One main method they chose their “clients” was to look for sad faces. If a child or adult looked sad, the likelihood was that she would be “counseled” by more than one group of counselors. One concern that I had was that the children (and adults) might be traumatized again by the “counseling” process.

And then….

“I met Lei in the “inner circle” at Jiuzhou Stadium. He was a cute and curious second grader who’d lost his parents in the quake. He approached me and asked me what I was doing when I was organizing the pictures I took. We looked at the pictures together, and chatted a little bit. He told me that after the earthquake, there come aftershocks, and then comes the epidemic. He said epidemic means you die if you do not wash hands before and after meal. When I asked him what earthquake is, he said if you talk loud, earthquake happens. I lowered my voice and asked him if our voices were loud. He said, I do not know.”

Half the Sky is finalizing plans to work in consultation with an important international resource for children traumatized by crisis. I want to thank all of you who have worked to help us locate Mandarin-speaking child trauma specialists. I think we are assembling an outstanding team. I will share more details in the next few days. What I hope I can communicate to you all is that our work is really just beginning. We need more help!

The New York Times Reports Rescue Ends One Ordeal for Young Chinese Pupils

CHENGDU, China — When the earth finally stopped bucking, only one building was left standing in the vicinity of the Yinxing Township Central Primary School, and that was the school itself.

All around, houses and shops lay flattened under a sky turned black with dust kicked up from the heaving hillsides. Yet in a catastrophe that has left 51,151 confirmed dead and crushed an estimated 7,000 schools, all but three of the primary school’s 268 children survived.

Of those survivors, 193 students whose families never made it to Yinxing to join them were flown out by helicopter with 10 teachers, arriving Tuesday night in Chengdu, the provincial capital. It was one of China’s first airborne rescue missions after a natural disaster.

Safe for the first time since disaster struck on May 12, the children enjoyed showers and a good meal, alternately laughing and crying as they relived their ordeal, still unaware that many, if not most, of their parents had died.

The next morning the children lined up for attendance drills and romped in the courtyard of the university where they are being lodged, just as they might in their regular playground back home. To hear their stories, however, it is clear that nothing in recent days has been normal, and that for many, perhaps, nothing will be ever again.

Lei Huazhen, 36, a teacher at the school, said, “I was playing games with preschool kids in the playground, teaching them dances, when all of a sudden the sky turned all black.

“It was like daylight turning to darkness in a split second, and there was dust everywhere blocking my sight,” she said. “The whole sky was black, and I realized it was an earthquake, and I shouted to my students, ‘Hurry up, run!’ ”

Many of those who ran to safety mentioned Wang Sen, a fourth grader who was in a music class on the school’s second floor when the earthquake struck. Some students immediately jumped out the window of the heaving building. But among those who rushed toward the stairway, by all accounts Wang Sen was the fastest.

“He was the first to run out of the building,” said Li Jiaxing, 12, who was in the same music class. “But a boulder as big as a washbasin hit him and knocked him on the ground, and he couldn’t move. He was yelling for help.”

Another classmate, gazing somberly at the ground, said, “We all rushed out the door, and we had to step on him to make our way out.” She said Wang Sen was crying out for help. But with boulders thundering down the steep mountainsides surrounding the school and rocks flying everywhere, it was not long before the fallen boy was struck again and killed.

The others raced to a vegetable garden beyond the range of the falling boulders, and waited about 20 minutes for the dust-blackened skies to brighten.

When things cleared a bit, teachers took attendance and confirmed that Wang Sen was absent, said Luo Yuwen, who is 10. The students whispered among themselves that he was dead, and a short while later teachers carried off his body for burial while telling the children not to look.

Two other children died, a girl in the first grade whose body was found in the rubble with no apparent external injuries, and a girl in the fifth grade whose legs were crushed and who died two days after being injured.

With no safe shelter, no electricity and no telephone contact with the outside world, the teachers established a camp of sorts in an open field, making improvised tents from whatever materials they could find.

Just before sunset, the skies opened up with torrential rains, which continued for most of the next two days. Later that first sleepless night, the first powerful aftershocks came, unleashing boulders larger than the school’s classrooms from nearby slopes.

An English instructor who gave her name as Wang said the teachers struggled to contain the panic, pleading with students to stop wailing by telling them that it might cause more earthquakes.

The coming days brought equal measures of boredom and despair. The school had limited stores of food, so only small rations of corn and porridge were allowed twice a day. Water quickly ran short, requiring people to drink what rainfall they could collect.

A farmer’s generator powered a television, which brought news of the mounting national rescue operation, including a visit by the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, to a nearby city. But for the first several days helicopters merely flew overhead, sometimes dropping supplies in the vicinity. They never stopped.

“We got quite used to having helicopters flying by,” Ms. Lei said. Roads in and out of the area were cut off, and the students had no word from their parents. One exception was Li Jiaxing, whose father worked in a stone quarry a 30-minute walk away in normal times. He reached the school two days after the quake, having hiked over dangerous terrain. it was not until the third day after the earthquake that a small expeditionary team of soldiers showed up. That night, 300 troops arrived bearing tents and food, and students and teachers said they greeted them in tears.

“They told us not to be afraid,” said Yi Shoulong, 10, repeating a revolutionary legend told to him by the troops. “They said soldiers are used to the rain of bullets from enemies as they build bridges over rivers.”

Helicopters began arriving over the next few days, bringing more supplies and carrying away the most seriously injured townspeople. But still the schoolchildren were not evacuated. Some parents straggled in from the surrounding countryside for tearful reunions with their children, but many more did not. In fact, nine days after the quake, most of the children had not seen or heard from their parents.

On Tuesday, a small fleet of helicopters began carrying away the children and their teachers, ferrying them to nearby Yingxiu, where they boarded buses for the four-hour ride to Chengdu.
While the children are being well cared for, their longer term care will be a difficult proposition, said psychologists at the Southwest Economic and Finance University, where they have been housed in a dormitory with several hundred children from other areas who have been separated from their families.

“One girl I saw clearly needed attention,” said Feng Weidong, a psychologist. “When she was showing us pictures that her group was drawing, she suddenly burst into tears. She felt the sorrow of losing her beautiful school very deeply, and there’s a sadness which she can’t get rid off.”

Zeng Daoren, a university official, said: “In general, they were very excited when they arrived last night, jumping up and down on the beds and making a lot of noise. They’re still excited today, but for a few older ones, the effect of the earthquake will kick in soon. It will leave a deep impact, especially for those whose parents are not alive. Their teachers haven’t told some of them the news yet.”

“I miss my parents a lot,” said Luo Yuwen, the 10-year-old. “I haven’t seen them yet, and I don’t know whether they’re safe or not. The thing I wanted to do most was to get away from that place.”

No Evidence of Radioactive Leak

A global network of sensors has found no evidence that China’s complex of nuclear facilities in the earthquake zone let any radioactivity escape, its operator reported Wednesday.

The finding supports reassurances by China and the United States that the May 12 earthquake resulted in no large nuclear releases, even though the stricken zone in Sichuan Province has China’s main centers for designing, making and storing nuclear arms.

The network of sensors — run out of Vienna under the auspices of the United Nations and known as the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty — monitors the globe for clandestine nuclear blasts as well as other seismic and atomic events

CNN Reports: Officer Breastfeeds Quake Orphans

From Hugh Riminton
CNN International

JIANGYOU, China (CNN) -- A Chinese police officer is being hailed as a hero after taking it upon herself to breast-feed several infants who were separated from their mothers or orphaned by China's devastating earthquake.

Police officer Jiang Xiaojuan, 29, was feeding nine babies at one point.

Officer Jiang Xiaojuan, 29, the mother of a 6-month-old boy, responded to the call of duty and the instincts of motherhood when the magnitude-7.9 quake struck on May 12.

"I am breast-feeding, so I can feed babies. I didn't think of it much," she said. "It is a mother's reaction and a basic duty as a police officer to help."

The death toll in the earthquake jumped Thursday to more than 51,000, and more than 29,000 are missing, according to government figures. Thousands of children have been orphaned; many others have mothers who simply can't feed them.

At one point, Jiang was feeding nine babies.

"Some of the moms were injured; their fathers were dead ... five of them were orphans. They've gone away to an orphanage now," she said. Watch the officer care for babies »

She still feeds two babies, including Zhao Lyuyang, son of a woman who survived the quake but whose breast milk stopped flowing because of the traumatic conditions.

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"We walked out of the mountains for a long time. I hadn't eaten in days when I got here, and my milk was not enough," said that mother, Zhao Zong Jun. "She saved my baby. I thank her so much. I can't express how I feel."

Liu Rong, another mother whose breast milk stopped in the trauma, was awed by Jiang's kindness.

"I am so touched because she has her own baby, but she fed the disaster babies first," Liu said. "If she hadn't fed my son, he wouldn't have had enough to eat."

Jiang has became a celebrity, followed by local media and proclaimed on a newspaper front page as "China's Mother No. 1."

She's embarrassed by the fuss.

"I think what I did was normal," she said. "In a quake zone, many people do things for others. This was a small thing, not worth mentioning." See the quake zone »

There has been a huge outpouring of support from families who want to adopt babies orphaned by the quake. But that process takes time, and there are mouths to feed.

Jiang misses her own son, who's being cared for through the emergency by in-laws in another town, but she is aware of the new connections she's made.

"I feel about these kids I fed just like my own. I have a special feeling for them. They are babies in a disaster."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

4000 Year-Old Village Destroyed By Quake

This village is 4000 years old. It's 1970 above sea level. It is the world's largest and oldest earth-made village. To prevent outside invaders, all the house are linked by an under ground tunnel, and the whole village were built into three layers. Both features proved to be effective when there was a war. However it did not survive t he devastating earthquake on May 12, 2008.

It used to be the capital city of Qiang minority nationality in ancient time. All of the 226 houses collapsed.

It had a population of 1080, but 42 people were killed during the earthquake, including 7 children and 15 old people. 85 people are wounded. It is fortunate that most of the villagers were laboring in the fields when the natural disaster came.

Half the Sky Earthquake Update - May 21-22

You will see below that there are preparations being made in many institutions to receive newly orphaned and displaced children.

There have been numerous media reports about the thousands of new orphans; we have received dozens of adoption inquiries here at Half the Sky (which has no involvement in adoption!)I really want to stress that many, many of these children you're hearing about will be reunited with family – if not parents, then living relatives. In rural China, especially, workers often leave their children with grandparents so that they can support their families by working in more prosperous areas. Many of the children do have parents – parents who are desperately trying to find their children. The government is keenly aware of this and, while there are many, many media reports of adoption programs and applications submitted for domestic adoption of the children,we don’t believe that any adoption procedures will be put into place before every means has been exhausted to find parents or other living relatives.

We, along with Ministry officials, are meeting with the provincial Civil Affairs Bureau on Monday and may have more information about the plans for transitional care of orphaned and displaced children. We are exploring how we can, working with other NGOs, best help care for the children in the interim and assist the government in its efforts to provide for their future.

Here is the current situation:
Chengdu CWI has been notified to prepare to receive 100 children; they expect that more may follow. At the same time, the orphanage has moved the children out-of-doors out of concern for safety. (photos on our website Half the Sky is working with local government and erecting a giant tent that can serve as shelter for orphaned and displaced children for as long as necessary. More news on this early next week.

Chengdu 2nd SWI - 35 senior citizens and 10 preschool-age orphans have been transferred there from Dujiangyan City. 40~50 more orphans will be arriving soon. They are in need of 50 beds, sets of bedding, as well as the same number of clothes for children between 5 and 7 years old. Before the arrival of those 45, the institution had 100+ children and 500+elderly people already. During aftershocks, they stayed in tents; but now,they have all moved back to the buildings.

Chengdu 3rd SWI – Caring for 30 children, all fine, not expecting new arrivals.

Wenjiang District SWI, Chengdu – Caring for only 4 children, all fine, not expecting new arrivals.

Dujiangyan SWI – All of the children are under good care and there is no shortage of food or any daily necessity. 12 new children were recently brought in, but they’ve been having much success in locating surviving family members and have high hopes for these children as well.

Luojiang County SWI, Deyang City – The children are being cared for in a shelter, including 6 new arrivals. They are expecting a 2 year-old and have asked for a crib as well as diapers, powdered milk and rice.

Deyang SWI – Has prepared to receive new children per instructions.

Nanchong 2nd SWI – They are caring for 27 children and are expecting another 20. They are sleeping in tents due to concerns about aftershocks. They ask for 10 tents, tarps and beds.

Cangxi SWI, Guangyuan City – They have some building damage. They have been advised that they may be receiving children from Qingchuan but this has not yet been confirmed by the provincial Civil Affairs Bureau.

I told you that 13 of the 24 children brought to the Zitong SWI had been reunited with family. Today I was told there were 12. Two signs hang at the institution. One says “There are only 20 children from Xiao BaPrimary School in An'Xian in our institution. There are no children from Beichuan. If you are looking for those from Beichuan, please go to (name)Hotel. If you are looking to adopt, please come in 3 months." The other,poignantly says, "Yan: only her mother was home; XianLin & LiGang are brothers: only their father was home: Cheng: her father is working inXinjiang; Dan: her parents are working in Zhejiang; Jun: about 2 years old, parents whereabouts unknown; Zhou: about 1 year old, parents whereabouts unknown. Needs: Books to read; stable place to live. Emotional needs: their family...their relatives."

Mianyang – The Jiuzhou Stadium that houses 20,000 refugees is now,considering the situation, well-organized and, beyond trash bags and disposable gloves, there seem to be no unmet material needs. While there were, at first, about 1,700 children staying in the “inner circle” of the stadium (on the first floor inside the building), most of those childrenhave either been reunited with family or transferred to smaller shelter sin Mianyang. There are only about 130 children remaining. There are volunteer counselors and psychologists for these children. The “inner circle” is strictly guarded by police, soldiers, and volunteers. Mr.Liang JianHua, a volunteer leader and veteran, has been supervising care of the children in the “inner circle” from the very beginning, with the help of about a dozen volunteers. According to Ma Lang, he seems to be an extremely competent, kind, and devoted person.

Meanwhile, for children less well-served, Half the Sky is moving goods like crazy and working hard to initiate the next, and most important phase of our efforts – trauma counseling and care for displaced and orphaned children.

Thanks to help from dozens of volunteers, we’ve delivered about 100 of the promised tents, cases of blankets, tarps, clothes, diapers, food and medicines to several institutions. There will be many more arrivals and deliveries over the coming days. We have received permits to enter and provide aid to one of the more inaccessible hard-hit areas tomorrow (Aba County) and are working on helping in Li and Mao counties, also hard-hit.

We have begun the process of distributing to temporary children’s shelters. We give special thanks to the Sichuan employees of Silk RoadTelecommunications, many of whom helped us load and unload trucks and haveoffered to aid in distribution and logistics all around the province.

I’ve got lots more to report but have run out of steam and time. I’ll beback tomorrow with more, I promise.

Fundraiser This Weekend in Chinatown, NYC

Dear Families,

This is short notice, but we just received word last night, almost immediately after the details were worked out, that there is a major fund raising event for earthquake relief in the Northeast region of China happening this Saturday, May 24th at Jingfong Restaurant in Chinatown. There will be many performers, including Chinese adoptees, donating their time and talent. This seems like it will be a fun event for the whole family to attend and is definitely a worthy cause. Hopefully many of you will be able to attend!

Jingfong Restaurant
20 Elizabeth St.
New York, NY 10013
Tel: 212-964-5256

Saturday, May 24th 2008

Anyone and everyone is welcome to attend. Appropriate for all ages.

Event to raise funds for the earthquake victims in China. All proceeds and donations will given to the Red Cross and the Chinese Consulate General to be taken directly to China.
$50 per person, payable at the door

Performances to Include:
Magic Show
Gongfu demonstration
***The performers are some of the best professionals in the area and some of the performances will be given by children who were adopted from China!

Children Show Their Appreciation to Rescuers

"Sincerely Thank You."

"Uncle, please have a bowl of water."

"We love you.", "You are the best!" "You are real Heros!"

"Uncles and Aunties, thank you for saving us."

A child Solutes, while being transferred to a safe place.

Children from the earthquake area are holding up sign boards to thank rescuers. Translation of the posters: "Thanks to you all", " We love you," and "You are true heroes."

AP Reports China Estimates 4,000 Children Orphaned in Quake

MIANYANG, China - Last week's deadly earthquake in China has created more than 4,000 orphans, a Chinese official said.

But Chen Kefu, the deputy director for civil affairs in hard-hit Sichuan province, warned at a news conference Wednesday that it will take time to determine the real number of parentless children because of the large number of people still missing and displaced.

The May 12 quake has killed more than 41,000 people and left more than 5 million homeless.
Thousands of Chinese have called government offices and posted their pleas online to adopt an orphan from the quake.

"Every day my ministry receives hundreds of calls," Jiang Li, China's vice minister of civil affairs, told a news conference Tuesday.

The earthquake also robbed many parents of their children, many of whom were killed when their schools collapsed. Chinese newspapers ran photos of piles of dusty bookbags and of small hands emerging from the rubble.

But officials say adoptions won't begin until the earthquake-affected area is brought under order. Until then, local governments will take care of the orphans.

"We've received many inquiries about adoptions, but at present it's simply too early since we're still in the rescue and recovery stage," said Wang Jun of the Chinese Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, who's handling orphan issues in the city of Deyang on the edge of the quake zone.

Officials are first scrambling to reunite children with family members. Newspapers have run children's photos and names, asking the public for help. Posters with similar information has been posted at the sports stadium in the city of Mianyang, which has turned into a massive relief camp for thousands of survivors.

China is the top source of foreign adopted children in the United States, and many Americans have already contacted adoption agencies about earthquake orphans.

However, "I think the Chinese government will start with domestic adoption first," said Joshua Zhong, the co-founder and president of the U.S.-based Chinese Children Adoption International.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Half the Sky Earthquake Update - May 20

There are 34,073 people confirmed dead, 245,108 injured, still more than35,000 still missing.

Yesterday, after those three silent minutes in Sichuan, people began to call out, “Rebuild! Rebuild!” Today, when I was feeling I couldn’t open another casualty report, I read instead a report about new babies born during and right after the quake. They have names like ‘Li Zhen’(Earthquake) and ‘Born in a Tent’ and ‘Long March.’ They, like all the survivors, will carry these terrible days with them always. But their lives are just beginning. For them and for all of the children who survived, Sichuan will begin to rebuild.

As hope of finding more survivors fades, we find hope in each bit of good news. During the past week we managed to reach every single orphanage in the hardest-hit areas but one - Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. Today we finally made contact. They said, “The institution buildings are no longer safe to live in. All the children live in tents. The government provides us with enough food and water and daily necessities. Now we only worry how and when we can possibly rebuild.”

Of the 24 children (all of whom were from hard-hit Anxian County) who we reported were brought to Mianyang Zitong SWI because they were newlyorphaned, I am very happy to tell you that 13 of them were reunited with relatives.The children of Suining SWI have now been able to move back into their orphanage building.

More displaced children are arriving daily at shelters in Chengdu, but no one is giving up on finding living relatives yet. Yesterday, 70 children were brought to a large hospital in Chengdu for urgent treatment. Some of them had joyful reunions with family, but of course, not all. One very young girl signed her own consent form to have surgery on her broken arm. Ma Lang wrote, “She was a sweet and tough girl, and the doctors, nurses,and volunteers loved her very much.”

Ma Lang and two other HTS staff are now in Mianyang and we expect more news from them soon. Meanwhile, our relief operation is going into full swing, with tents, tarps, medicines, beds, blankets, rice, diapers, food,clothing and baby formula moving in and out of the Chengdu CWI for immediate delivery to distressed areas.

As we get closer to realizing our small part of meeting the basic challenges of shelter and emergency supplies, it is time to embark on the most critical project for the long term – helping the children heal and goon with life. This is, of course, why Half the Sky exists and how our organization can best help Sichuan’s children rebuild. Now we will begin the process of training caregivers, foster parents, shelter workers and volunteers of all backgrounds to work with newly orphaned and displaced children.

We believe our long experience working with children orphaned by AIDS and other children who were not infants when they lost their parents has given us a solid foundation for this work. But this week we are recruiting a team of pediatric psychologists, trauma specialists and social workers to help us adjust our training methods to this special circumstance. (If you are, or know of, a Mandarin-speaking professional working in this field who would like to volunteer for this project, please let me know!)

Within two weeks, Half the Sky’s entire staff of field supervisors will be working with caregivers and new foster parents all around Sichuan. Our work is just beginning. Thank you so much for making it possible!

How Pandas were moved to a Safe Place during the earthquake

Baby Pandas are moved to a safe place

In transit - Giant panda was being transferred.

Feeding Pandas after the earthquake

New and safe Panda house

The original Panda houses are collapsed.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wall Street Journal Reports After Quake, Many Inquiries From Chinese About Adoptions

After Quake, Many Inquiries From Chinese About Adoptions
Geoffrey A. Fowler and Juliet Ye report on the fate of survivors.

Already, the survivors of China’s earthquake are putting together their own makeshift families. In the Jiuzhou Stadium in Chengdu, where thousands are being housed, volunteer Melody Zhang says she met a “nice-looking” one made up of a mother, a father, a grandfather and two children—from four different families.

“They just naturally took care of each other,” says Ms. Zhang, the associate director of adoption agency Children’s Hope International, who has been delivering supplies in Sichuan province.

As the focus of the earthquake relief effort in Sichuan turns to aiding survivors, China is witnessing an outpouring of requests by other Chinese to adopt children orphaned by the disaster. The provincial Sichuan Internal Affairs Bureau has set up an adoption hotline and says it has received hundreds of enquires from elsewhere in the country. So many people were trying to call it on Friday that the hotline almost always gave a busy signal.

The government tried to calm some of the eagerness on Friday by announcing on state-run news media that it would start making permanent arrangements for orphaned children only once reconstruction begins. “Everything will be done strictly in accordance with the adoption law,” said a spokeswoman for the State Internal Affairs Bureau who identified herself as Ms. Gan.

The government hasn’t yet offered any estimates of the number of children orphaned by the quake. Ms. Gan said that “quite a few” children had been found at least temporarily without their parents, but needed time to find them. Inside the Jiuzhou Stadium, people post information about missing family members on a bulletin board.

The sad reality is that there may not be very many orphans, officials say, because many of the estimated 50,000 dead are children. The earthquake came during school hours on a Monday—and demolished many schools.

Orphans who have survived the earthquake need not only physical but also mental support, Ms. Zhang says. One four-year-old girl she met, Shen Xiaoyu, had managed to climb out of the rubble of her day care center on her own, but now refused to speak to anybody at the Mianyang Central Hospital. Ms. Zhang says her colleagues are working on a program to train volunteers in counseling children for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Authorities aren’t showing any signs that they will make it easier for foreign families to adopt the children, after implementing tough new adoption rules last year. China’s amended rules bar foreigners who are single, obese, over 50 years old or currently taking psychiatric medications. In the last decade, well over 50,000 Chinese children have been adopted by foreign families, many of them American, in a process that can take years.

China’s rationale for the policy change was that the government could not meet the demand of prospective foreign families. Birthrates are falling in China, and economic growth has led to fewer parents abandoning their children due to poverty.

Now, the Sichuan earthquake has brought an outpouring of aid and sympathy from inside China.

One of those potential adoptive parents is Li Chuanxi, a 45-year-old survivor of China’s last giant earthquake, in his hometown of Tangshan, in 1976. “I could not move my eyes off the TV every day, waiting for the latest information on the Wenchuan earthquake,” he says. “I can’t help crying whenever I see the kids’ miserable faces.”

He says he discussed the matter with his wife, and they want to adopt two or three kids, if they are allowed. “My apartment is big enough for newcomers to the family,” he says. They have a 19-year-old daughter.

The State Internal Affairs Bureau says so far there is more demand for orphans to adopt than there is need. “We would have no difficulty at all sending every child here to families in China,” Ms. Gan said.