Charity puts Sichuan on road to Wednesday, May 13 2009
Villages hardest hit by the earthquake will benefit from a project which will build quake-resistant homes, writes Elizabeth Turner.
The South China Morning Post Homes for Hope charity project has set itself the goal of raising HK$18million this year. The charity was initiated by the South China Morning Post and was officially launched on March 19.
Over the course of the year Homes for Hope and its supporting organisations will organise fund-raising activities in Hong Kong to generate cash for the charity.
Funds raised by the project will go towards helping victims of the Sichuan earthquake which devastated the province a year ago, killing almost 70,000 people injuring 400,000 and leaving millions homeless.
Homes for Hope will help two villages which were hardest hit by the earthquake. They are Qingquan village in Mianzhu city, and Ma Jia Xiang.
Qingquan is the area which was most affected by the earthquake. It destroyed more than 95 per cent of buildings and more than 2,400 people were left homeless. Almost 1,000 of the villagers are elderly, handicapped or left too badly injured by the earthquake to be able to care for themselves.
Villagers are living in makeshift shelters made of board and plastic until they can be rehoused.
Homes for Hope will allocate 2.3million yuan (HK$2.6million) to help build quake-resistant homes for the villagers.
Donations will be made in the form of the construction materials needed to build these homes.
Architects from nearby cities have been appointed to design houses able to withstand an earthquake up to a magnitude of 8. Concrete ring beams will be used in each house to confine walls, and steel-bar reinforcing will be used in corner pillars to support and anchor walls and roofs.
Reconstruction work in Qingquan began in March and former farmland measuring 93,000 square metres has been turned into a construction site. Work on the first phase of rebuilding is under way, with 160 new homes now under construction and foundations in place.
Those houses are expected to be completed next month.
More than 500 families in Qingquan will receive help from Homes for Hope and homes for all of the families are expected to be finished by the end of the year.
Since the earthquake, Qingquan village has combined with two nearby villages, Hongyan and Shaba, and now houses 979 families who were left homeless after the earthquake.
Each family will receive between 16,000 and 22,000 yuan from the central government to help rebuild their homes; villages will have to fund the rest of the construction costs.
A quake-resistant house of 80 or 90 square metres costs about 60,000 to 70,000 yuan.
The second village to receive assistance from Homes for Hope is Ma Jia Xiang, or Shengnan new village, a small Tibetan village in the Majia township of Jiuzhaigou with a population of just 507.
Most of the homes in Ma Jia Xiang have already been rebuilt, however the village is cut off and without basic facilities and infrastructure such as electricity, a proper water supply and passable roads.
Until infrastructure is installed, villagers must walk 30 minutes to fetch water for their daily requirements. There is no electricity at night.
The Homes for Hope project will help complete 11 infrastructure projects to restore these services, and buy materials for residents to build facilities such as reservoirs, roads and a sewage system which are essential for the daily life of the villagers.
Homes for Hope will subsidise the costs of construction materials in phases for the Qingquan and the Ma Jia Xiang projects to ensure that all the funds are used to the maximum benefit for the earthquake victims.
Government departments must approve all materials to ensure that they are earthquake-resistant.
Full-time onsite project managers will supervise reconstruction work in both villages, and locals from each area will be enlisted to help with the rebuilding.
A steering committee chaired by Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po will oversee the Homes for Hope project.
Steering committee members include Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Holdings and Ocean Park, SCMP Group chairman David Pang Ding-jung, National People's Congress deputy Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, former KPMG partner Valiant Cheung Kin-piu and Hui Kuok, managing director and chief executive of SCMP Group.
The SCMP Homes for Hope project has already received HK$10million from the trust fund that was set up by the Hong Kong government to help victims of the earthquake, as well as the HK$3million collected from Operation Santa Clause, an annual charity campaign that is also organised by the South China Morning Post in conjunction with public broadcaster RTHK.