China (MNN) — SIM International is shifting the focus of its earthquake
relief in China
from providing for immediate needs to restoring lives and rebuilding
The 7.9 earthquake on May 12 completely cut off a small
mountain village from the outside world. The 800 villagers decided to stay in the village and harvest their
crops, but they began running out of food and had to sleep outside in the
cold. When one villager brought her baby
to a refugee camp for medical help, an SIM worker learned of the predicament
and helped deliver tents and food to the village.
SIM plans to work with local believers and officials to
rebuild towns such as this one. It hopes
to build long-term relationships with villages devastated by the earthquake
by providing equipment for schools and
hospitals, organizing special activities for children displaced by the quake,
initiating agriculture projects, and offering micro-loans to help kick-start
the local economy.
Earthquake damage is estimated at 20 billion U.S.
dollars. Earthquake recovery in Sichuan province has only
just begun, as infrastructure such as schools, homes, roads, bridges, and
hospitals must all be rebuilt.
SIM began by providing water, blankets, and tents to
earthquake survivors, as well as training local believers in caring for
traumatized children. It plans to offer
more training for caregivers, parents, and teachers. SIM workers and local Chinese believers have
been visiting tent cities simply to talk to people and hear their stories.
"I find they need people to
whom they want to talk," said one SIM associate.
"The sorrow and mourning is
beyond description," another associate reported. "Two days ago, a
group of young people at a tent city invited us up to see the graves of their
classmates and teachers. 'This was my teacher. This was my best friend. This
was the best basketball player in the school.' That's what this group of 9th
graders told us as we walked from terrace to terrace up the side of the