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Healing the Future

China, May 6, 2009

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Norman Ng for Mercy Corps  </span>
    New school supplies helped more than 9,000 children feel safe again in classrooms after the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, which caused school collapses that killed up to 10,000 students. Photo: Norman Ng for Mercy Corps

So much depends on children. They're the pride and joy of their families, as well as eternal hope for a better future. There's perhaps no place in the world where this rings more true than China.

China's longstanding one-child policy makes children that much more precious to parents. And that made May 12, 2008 especially unbearable for so many.

On that day, the Wenchuan earthquake devastated wide swaths of Sichuan Province, toppling entire cities and killing nearly 70,000 people. Some of the most heart-wrenching tragedies occurred at schools when classrooms collapsed. In the aftermath, there was destruction, displacement and disbelief.

Mercy Corps responded immediately, sending staff to affected areas within hours of the disaster — and the generous donations of our supporters helped us in so many ways. We delivered truckloads of critical supplies such as water, noodles, milk and shelter items to survivors. We put together kits containing much-needed hygiene and household goods and distributed them to displaced families.

But our most important work was helping young survivors move past the tragedy and shock of loss. Within days of the earthquake, we launched two youth psychosocial programs — Comfort for Kids and Moving Forward — that have helped support and counsel traumatized children. These two programs trained more than 1,600 caregivers, such as teachers and psychologists, who continue serving the needs of thousands of young survivors.

We also provided educational support for these children at a time when they equated classrooms with fear of what had happened. We delivered school supplies to more than 9,000 children, as well as giving teachers the tools they needed and equipping new classrooms with essential items. This helped ease their return to learning.

Thank you for supporting this life-changing work.