Tuesday, May 20, 2008

China's Recent Earthquake and Henry's Orphanage

Pingliang in Gansu Province where our son Henry's orphanage is located was apparently among the areas damaged in a series of huge earthquakes and aftershocks that struck western China beginning on Monday, May 12. The worst damage was in northern Sichuan Province about 200 miles to the south and overall some 80,000 people have been killed or are missing, mostly within the area near the epicenter of the initial quake around Sichuan's Wenchuan County. Many millions of homes have been destroyed or damaged across a very wide area.

News of quake damage in Pingliang has trickled in over news groups and largely from contacts with a few westerners working in the area. The children and staff at the Pingliang Social Welfare Institute (SWI) are said to be uninjured but staying outside in tents because of concerns about the stability of the orphanage building. The orphanage is said to be in need of more tents and instant food rations. Most of the damage at the orphanage may have occurred during an aftershock this week. Within the quake region, unfortunate rumours have been circulating about additional aftershocks expected, although neither earthquakes nor their aftershocks can be scientifically predicted with much accuracy.

Media services have reported only generally on quake damages in Gansu but early on noted significant damages such as collapsed buildings in Pingliang and in Longnan, which is closer to Sichuan’s northern border. About 400 people were killed and many more injured within the province overall, mostly around Longnan. One report said that about ten people were killed when some older buildings collapsed in Pingliang. Several news agencies carried reports of a 40-car freight train, including 12 gasoline tankers, that derailed inside a tunnel in Huixian County between Pingliang and Longnan, and that exploded in a massive fire immediately after the first earthquake struck on the 12th. This rail line has since been reopened.

A local branch of the Red Cross relief organization in Gansu has allocated Y300,000 (about $50,000 USD) to provide food, medicine and quilts to the areas around Pingliang, Longnan, Qingyang, Tianshui and Gannan within the province. In addition, 3,000 quilts and 200 tons of flour have been collected from donations locally for transport to these areas.

We are expecting travel approval at any moment, will head to China as quickly as we can, and once there will try to gather a more detailed description of the orphanage's specific needs.

Meanwhile, it is possible to make a donation now in support of the Pingliang SWI through a reliable organization called Love Without Boundaries (see http://www.lovewithoutboundaries.com/) . To make a contribution online go to the LWB web site and at the top of the homepage click on the circle icon labeled “Donate Now.” Under "category" select “Orphanage Assistance” and enter "For Pingliang SWI" in the “Notes” section. To donate by check make your check payable to Love Without Boundaries and write “Pingliang Orphanage Assistance” on the memo line. Mail your check to: Love Without Boundaries, 306 S. Bryant St., Ste. C, PMB 145, OK, 73034.