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Quake victims share in hopes for future
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Quake victims share in hopes for future

Wu Junni (left), 9, chats with a volunteer in Zitong, Sichuan province, yesterday. Twenty-four college students brought moon cakes and other treats to about 30 children who were resettled in pre-fab houses after losing their homes in the May 12 quake.

Days before the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Sunday, 37-year-old Li Jianrong already decided how he would celebrate the occasion.

"I will share half a moon cake with my son and leave the other half for my deceased wife," he said.

"I want my son to feel that his mother will always be part of the family, in spirit."

Li is a resident of Dujiangyan in Sichuan province. He is one of the victims of the May 12 quake that killed nearly 70,000 people.

Dujiangyan's bureau of civil affairs gave out two moon cakes to each resettled victim in the quake zones, in line with the traditional practice of enjoying the treats during this highly valued time of sharing and family reunions.

Recounting in tears that frightful day when his house collapsed and buried his wife, Li said it felt like an evil spirit had sucked the very life out of him, leaving behind nothing more than a walking corpse.

"Then I remembered I still have a son and I must rebuild a family for him. And there is no better time to start doing this than during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which symbolizes family values in Chinese culture," he said.

Li is just one of the many quake victims who are holding onto hopes for a better future as rebuilding efforts continue in Sichuan.

Another of the city's quake victims, Jin Liang, relished a slice of moon cake as he sipped a cup of tea. He seemed contented, to be able to indulge in his weakness for the sweetmeat.

"But, unlike before, I'm enjoying the cake in front of a prefabricated home, built after the May 12 quake," the 64-year-old retired high school teacher told China Daily in the Frugal Home, the city's largest earthquake resettlement site with about 8,000 quake victims.

"Life has to continue," said Zhong Yueqin, a storekeeper in the Happy Home, another resettlement site with 500 prefabricated houses sheltering more than 1,500 quake victims.

More than a week ago, Zhong bought five boxes containing 200 moon cakes with different stuffing.

"I did not expect the moon cakes would be popular among the victims. But to my surprise, many of them asked me for moon cakes. And I had to buy more," she said.

As the festival draws near, more people in Sichuan's provincial capital of Chengdu can also be seen carrying bags of the confectionaries on the streets.

"Chengdu people have not forgotten those who contributed to quake relief they have considered the relief workers their family members and have bought moon cakes for them," said He Huazhang, chief of the city's publicity department.

On behalf of more than 10 million Chengdu residents, He went to Dengzhou, Henan province, on Tuesday to visit the home of an army officer who had died of overwork to help quake victims.

A resident of Dengzhou, the 26-year-old military officer, Wu Wenbin, worked in quake-relief missions in Dujiangyan from May 15 to June 17. On June 18, he fainted while unloading material for temporary houses, and died from exhaustion.

He Huazhang had brought moon cakes and a letter of gratitude written by Li Chuncheng, the city's party chief, to Wu's family members.

Soon after Wu's death, his 60-year-old father, who could barely support himself with his job in a local hospital in Dengzhou, went to Dujiangyan and donated all the money Dengzhou residents gave him to schools in Dujiangyan.

"When journalists from Chengdu visited the Dengs, they found the family had lived in thatched housing built 32 years ago. They did not even have a TV set," He said.

The publicity chief told China Daily that Cai Yinfu, a construction company leader in Chengdu, designed a blueprint for Wu's new home and offered to build a house for them with his own money, after reading about their situation from reports.

"Construction of the 222-sq m home with bedrooms, kitchen and toilets will be completed in mid-November," Cai said.

(China Daily September 12, 2008)

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