The reconstruction of earthquake-hit towns in Shifang City in Sichuan Province is progressing rapidly thanks to help from Beijing Municipality.
The May 12, 2008 earthquake caused widespread devastation in Shifang, a sprawling urban area in Sichuan Province. Many of Shifang's outlying towns were wrecked in the disaster, the People's China reported in late January.
The road to Hongbai Town, 30 kilometers north of Shifang, was blocked by boulders and debris. The remains of collapsed houses lined the town's muddy roads. Thousands of people died and survivors fled the area.
But one-and-a-half years later, the scene has changed dramatically. The main road has been cleared and widened, cutting the journey time to the provincial capital, Chengdu, to two-and-a-half hours from six. Brand new apartment blocks have been built throughout the town and life is returning to normal.
Hongbai's streets are bustling with stalls selling food, clothes and books. Shop assistants are recommending home appliances to customers and restaurants are full of youngsters chatting happily.
Hongbai resident Chen Jun lost five of the eight members of her family in the earthquake. But she and her husband recovered from their grief and built a 110-square-meter two-storey house. Chen recently gave birth to a child they named Zhao Chongjian (Chongjian means reconstruction). Her husband has found a job in a nearby coal mine. Chen said she will look for a job when her new son is one year old. "I think our life is going to get better," the 40-year-old woman said.
Homes for the old and lonely
In Yuanshi Town, work on a 17,000-square-meter rest home for the elderly began one week after the deadly earthquake. Each of the home's 20-square-meter rooms has two single beds, a desk, a chair, a TV and a cupboard. The home, built with the help of Beijing Municipality, takes responsibility for looking after its elderly residents and even makes funerals arrangements after they pass away.
The home was built by environmental-friendly materials is warm, fireproof and earthquake-proof. The staff have been trained by experts from Beijing Shijingshan district welfare homes. The elderly residents take part in sing-songs, dances and watching movies, and are offered counseling once a week.
Monthly fees for the rest home range from 820 yuan (US$120) to 1,200 yuan (US$175), but it is free of charge to those who lost their children in the earthquake.