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Child victims remembered on special day
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Perhaps never before has International Children's Day been so significant in China.

After the earthquake that devastated the country on May 12, the lost children were commemorated on Sunday - their own holiday - while millions of others seemed to have grown up overnight.

Standing on a pile of rubble that was the Xinjian Primary School, Yi Jianguo held a photo of his daughter.

"She always longed to celebrate Children's Day," he said, tears welling his eyes.

"Although she is gone, I remember her words and must make up for her."

There were 60 students in his daughter's class. Just five survived the quake.

Yi was among the 500 parents who planned to celebrate Children's Day for their lost kids.

They pooled their money to buy each child a large photo frame so as to have them "witness how their parents celebrate with them."

In the resettlement zone in the town of Leigu, Beichuan, four children played basketball with a ball they found in the debris.

"When can we return to school?" Chen Hao of the Leigu Primary School, asked.

"In the past we longed for a day off for Children's Day. But this time, we just wish our classes could start as normal on June 1."

For 13-year-old Wang Zhen from the Mianzhu Middle School, his holiday wish was to see his mom again.

The boy has become introverted since losing his mother in the earthquake.

"She was always nagging and sometimes beat me. But I know she did it because she loved me."

When Zhou Lin, his psychologist, told him "you can pretend I'm your mom and give me a hug," Wang threw himself into her arms and cried.

To children outside the quake zone, Sunday was maybe their first Children's Day when rather than receiving gifts they instead gave them.

In Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, 5-year-old Liu Yang emptied his piggy bank into a donation box, while in Hunan province, 10-year-old Xie Chuang took 50 carnations to a local hospital where children from the quake zone were receiving medical treatment.

"I watched TV and know they didn't cry, but their wounds must have hurt. I just want to make them happy," Xie said.

In Yushan county of Jiangxi province, 11-year-old Li Jing cut her waist-long hair that had taken her five years to grow and sold it for 5 yuan.

"My family isn't rich, but I wanted to do something for the other children," she said.

Students from the Yuanqing Middle School in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, donated 30 boxes of mosquito repellent and 1,000 bottles of essential balm, which they hope will help children in Sichuan get a good night's sleep.

Children around the world have also been keen to help the children of Sichuan.

In New York, school headmistress Nancy Sing Bock wrote a letter to the Chinese consulate to say how proud she was of 6-year-old student Li Ruishi for organizing a charity event that managed to raise $550.

Similar events were organized by children in other countries, including Switzerland and Spain.

"Chinese children seem to have grown up overnight," Chen Tongming, vice-head of the Ningxia Academy of Social Sciences, said.

"When they saw adults donating, they learnt the affection and were eager to help. To be caring is a sign of maturation."

In Beichuan, 11-year-old Zhang Hong, was yesterday busy counting the gifts she had received - a teddy bear, books and pens.

After the earthquake struck, she and her family had to trek for a whole day before they reached a place to shelter in safety.

"I have never walked for so long," she said.

"But I see so many people caring for us, and I know I should be stronger and more brave."

(Xinhua News Agency June 4, 2008)

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