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Young survivors experience Beijing for Children's Day
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Visiting the grand National Stadium and viewing the solemn national flag raising ceremony, the dreams of children from quake-hit regions came true on Saturday, just ahead of the upcoming International Children's Day.

About 150 students from quake-hit Sichuan Province were invited to China's capital in recent days to spend Sunday's Children's Day together with their peers.

At 4:50 a.m. on Saturday, the students gathered at Tianan'men Square to watch the national flag raising ceremony, living out their own dreams as well as as those of the deceased.

Feng Zhiyan, a primary school student from Hongbai Township of Shifang City, is the youngest child in her family. She lost her father, Feng Qiang, a teacher of Hongbai Middle School, during the quake.

"I feel my father is beside me and he has not left," she said. Her father sacrificed his life to save his colleagues.

"I love and respect my father," she said. "I really hope he can stand beside me now to watch the ceremony."

Zhang Ming, a student from Beichuan Middle School, together with 40 classmates watched the ceremony with excitement. "This is my first time to come to Beijing and I was so exited to go to bed last night."

But when he talked about his nine classmates killed during the catastrophe, his eyes fill with tears. "I miss my classmates and they had always dreamed of coming to Beijing too."

The devastating earthquake on May 12 claimed 68,977 lives and left 367,854 injured and 17,974 missing. It was unknown how many victims were students, but about 7,000 schools reportedly collapsed.

The Chinese government has promised to conduct safety appraisals of "all school buildings" in the quake zone as soon as possible to ensure the safety of students as they return to school.

Meanwhile, various activities were organized to help survivor children to come out from the nightmare of the calamity, such as in providing regular psychological consultation to children.

The Chinese Communist Youth League encouraged children out of the quake-hit regions to write letters and donate toys to their contemporaries in quake-stricken areas.

Publishers donated 12.83 million yuan (1.85 million U.S. dollars) worth of children's books to young readers in quake-hit Sichuan Province to mark the Children's Day.

Gu Xiulian, the All-China Women's Federation president, joined in the activities in Beijing and encouraged the children to look forward to the future.

"Let us spend the Children's Day together and let us to make a concerted effort to build better homes and create a bright prospect," she said.

(Xinhua News Agency June 1, 2008)

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