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Quake bereaved parents struggling with psychological trauma
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"It's like a dream. We cried all our tears out. We labored hard for half a life and turned penniless in the end, son dead, house levelled and fortunes gone," Wang says.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs and Sichuan provincial government have been working on how to support the old and childless. "On one hand, the government will invest more to build social welfare institutions and on the other, the relatives are encouraged to support the old and childless and the government will provide financial help," says Chen Kefu, deputy director of Sichuan Civil Affairs Bureau.

Memories of the disastrous scenes are lingering in survivors' minds.

"It suddenly turned black so that you could not see anything beyond an arm's length. I could not figure out what the blackness was. We believed it was smoke from under the ground. The ground just opened and closed to let out black smoke, like a monster," Wang recalls, "It dawned after the tremor. The blackness just came and disappeared suddenly."

"The ground moves like waves, turning back and forth, " recalls You Xia, "I'm afraid of any high building now. When I enter a high building, my first reaction is to check its quality, strong or not," she says.

Experts believe the peak time for the appearance of psychological problems is about one to three months after the disaster.

When the news spotlight moved away from the victims, they would have a feeling of being abandoned. "Statistics show 20 percent of the disaster victims will suffer psychological handicaps under such pressure. The handicaps would lead to damage in society or self-persecution, including suicide," Zhang Kan says.

He reckoned about 300,000 people in Sichuan will suffer psychological problems after the quake.

Different task-forces are working in Sichuan to extend psychological help, including those from the CAS Institute of Psychology, Red Cross Society of China, Military Psychological Training Center of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the Science and Technology Bureau of Sichuan Province and Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention under the Ministry of Health.

It's heartening to see psychological help being stressed in disaster relief by groups ranging from the central government to ordinary people's volunteer groups, Zhang Kan says.

The psychological help might be an enduring war. After the emergency reaction in disaster, the mid-term psychological help should continue for one month to three months and the long-term help should last for at least 20 years, Zhang says.

Yang Xiuhua had a dream about her daughter. "She says there is a monster in the mountain behind their kindergarten. Its eyes let out energy that prevented rescuers from saving her. She says she will be reborn in seven years. As for the monster, it will go to hell," Yang says.

(Xinhua News Agency July 5, 2008)

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