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Christine: There for Sichuan's Survivors

China, May 11, 2009

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Norman Ng for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Photo: Norman Ng for Mercy Corps

When the Wenchuan earthquake toppled cities and displaced millions of families in Sichuan Province a year ago, people from around the world joined with the Chinese to help survivors. Mercy Corps pitched in right away, coordinating the response with local partners and loading trucks full of food, water and other emergency supplies. Our staff and volunteers — with timely, generous donations from our supporters — made a lifesaving difference from the beginning, even as aftershocks shook the area.

Christine Fu was on the ground in Sichuan soon after the disaster struck. A native of Orange County, California, Christine had left her job in Washington, DC to work for a grassroots Chinese NGO in partnership with Mercy Corps' Giving Leadership Opportunities to Young Women program (Project GLOW). This program, located one of China's poorest and most isolated regions, offers assistance to young women from the Yi ethnic minority group — a culture that's been ravaged by economic shifts, drug use and HIV/AIDS.

Shortly after the earthquake she was called to Chengdu, Sichuan's capital city, to steer a critical part of the emergency response.

Christine's work with Chinese youth gave her the experience to lead Mercy Corps' efforts to counsel children and help them recover from their trauma. She helped build that program from scratch — and today, more than 1,600 teachers and psychologists have been trained in special methods to work with disaster-affected children.

A Displacement Camp Wedding

Her affection for the people of Sichuan runs so deep that Christine chose to have her wedding in one of the province's biggest displacement camps. She wanted to share the joy of her special day with the survivors she'd come to admire. And although she wanted to keep it low-key, it became a celebration for the entire community: the mayor of a devastated nearby city ended up hosting a party in Christine's honor, and children assisted by Mercy Corps programs sang during the ceremony.

"When I was looking at all the children with their families - looking up at us, wishing us happiness and 100 years of happy marriage — I got teary-eyed thinking that, after what these children faced and experienced, they could still carry so much hope and love for us," Christine said.

Our people define our mission. We don't just respond to emergencies, we stay as long as we're needed — and often become part of the community. Your support does so much more than rush supplies to survivors, it builds trusting relationships that rebuild lives.