Chengdu, China. May 6th, 2010
|Sichuan Quake Relief
|Mission statement: “Sichuan Quake Relief (SQR) is a non-profit, humanitarian organisation dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by the 12 May 2008 Sichuan earthquake.”
|6, working with many volunteers
|many communities in the earthquake region
It has not been easy finding a ngo in China that would actually accept our donation and support. We traveled to Sichuan with the idea of supporting local non-governmental efforts to help earthquake victims, and tried to contact quite a few people. We managed to reach a few of them and got hold of some Chinese initiatives supporting families from the disaster area. However, they couldn’t accept donations and traveling to the quake region by ourselves would cost more in terms of logistics than that it would benefit the struggling communities. What to do?
Through a newspaper ad we got in touch with Sichuan quake relief and its manager Peter Coff, who explained us the situation on the ground. Mr. Coff manages a coffee shop annex bookstore in central Chengdu that obviously is one of the nerve centers of expat life in the metropolis. He founded Quake Relief two years ago, one day after the devastating quake in May 2008, together with local expats as a community based ngo, thus reducing overhead cost and operating very efficiently. The ngo is currently supporting victims of both the 2008 earthquake and the recent Yushu quake.
Peter travels frequently to the region to distribute supplies and coordinate relief projects, and is clearly the best English-speaking contact in Chengdu. He works together with “handsonchengdu” for recruiting skilled volunteers and supports several smaller local initiatives reaching out to the earthquake region in very effective ways. For example, he mentions an initiative making insulating jackets out of recycled plastic bottles and a project teaching impoverished communities how to set up basic water filters.
He explains in which ways the relief efforts of the Chinese army can be effective, and where smaller initiatives can contribute their part. When it comes to manpower, the Chinese army has all it takes and seems to be coordinated with mind-boggling efficiency. However, skilled rescue workers and smart sustainable initiatives are more likely to come from smaller initiatives specializing in these areas.
|A destroyed home, image by SQR
We decide to make a donation to the organization account, and are sure the money will be used in the best possible way.