What News of Earthquake Emergency Relief? UMCOR in Action
Those who are United Methodists will be pleased to hear about our UMCOR efforts (United Methodist Committee on Relief) via The Amity Foundation. Amity staff with supplies reached the afflicted area in less than 24 hours after the quake struck.
UMCOR always works through partnership agencies within countries that need help. The Amity Foundation (which is the organization that I’m associated with as an English teacher) is our UMCOR partner.
A recent article written by Diane Allen on our UMCOR website reads as follows:
The earthquake in Qinghai (pronounced ‘ching high’) is one of China’s poorest provinces. The quake’s epicentre occurred in Yushu County Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Yushu is situated on the Tibetan plateau, over two and a half miles above sea level. According to Amity’s She Hongyu, Assistant General Secretary, it has a population of 90,000 of which 93 percent are ethnic Tibetans,
Both the high altitude, which can make breathing challenging for those not acclimated, and sub-freezing temperatures have made rescue and relief efforts especially difficult.
“Freezing weather, hard mud floors, 60 percent oxygen density, sleeping bags to be warmed up, is the true picture of the rescue situation in Yushu,” said She. “Amity staff have been working in Qinghai non-stop, determined to help as much as possible.”
Once at the quake site and in coordination with national relief efforts, Amity and its local partner in the area began focusing relief efforts in Longbao Township, 14,500 feet above sea level and about 40 miles from the hardest hit town of Jiegu, the county seat.
To date it has delivered emergency relief to nearly 4,000 thousand people in Cuoduo, Cuimei and Cuosang villages.
According to She, “Local buildings are mostly made of wood and low-level brick work. Many of them collapsed during the earthquake. Among the first batch of supplies were much needed quilts for the freezing weather at 1 degree Fahrenheit.” Other immediate provisions included: 2,790 cartons of mineral water; 1,120 cartons of sausages; 517 cartons of instant noodles; 50 tons of rice; 25 tons of wheat flour; and 600 sets of bedding.
Most of Yushu County’s population are traditional animal herders, living well below China’s poverty line, with incomes of less than $130 per year.
Poverty is one of the key reasons people are so vulnerable in times of disaster.
The Amity Foundation has been working in Qinghai’s Yushu County for several years, with integrated rural development and environmental projects. The organization was a key partner with UMCOR in responding to a massive earthquake in Sichuan Province in China in 2008. Nearly 87,000 people died in that earthquake.
A Recent Email from Ms She
As an Amity Foundation teacher, I have been receiving daily updates of Amity’s relief work in the earthquake zone.
Here is one such email, which should make our Methodists very proud to be a part of such a swift, meaningful and life-saving venture.
By 10:00pm, April 19, the death toll in Yushu earthquake rose to 2039, 195 people are still missing, 12,135 people injured, of whom, 1,434 are severely wounded. (http://news.xinhuanet.com/society/2010-04/20/c_1243493.htm)
Ms. Tang and Mr. Cui set off to Xining with the early morning flight from Nanjing and arrived in Xining at 2:00pm. Later this evening, together with Mr. Shu Junsong, they will be tumbling on the road to Yushu in two trucks fully loaded with relief materials.
While the lowest temperature in Yushu rises to freezing during night, the place was swept by strong wind covered with snow. It goes without saying the tough weather added to the difficulty of relief work. In sand, storm and snow, Amity team worked till 4:00am April 19 and distributed the 3rd batch of relief materials to 360 households in Zanian village, Longbao Township. Materials distributed were:
8 tons of flour;
2 tons of rice;
2000 bottles of mineral water;
1000 cartons of beef sausage
"People from thousands of miles away care about us, bring us food and drinks, you have given us hope for life", said the villagers in Zanian village where people died and 50 people badly injured from the strong earthquake.
Accompanied by the Principal of Longbao Township School, Mr. He Wen (Amity’s Assistant General Secretary) visited a number of schools collapsed in the quake to assess school condition and food supply . Amity will endeavour every effort in the reconstruction and restoration of the destructed villagers . Specific project items are to be decided based on the over-all comprehensive evaluation.
Amity’s fund raising efforts started the day the powerful earthquake hit Yushu. By April 19, a total of RMB 1.49 million Yuan ($219,117) was received.
Tomorrow morning, Mr. Wei Wei, staff member of the Church & Social Service Prog. will set off to Xining in order for those who have worked in Yushu withdraw and have a moment to adjust and replenish much needed energy and sleep.
Assistant General Secretary
Director, Research & Development Centre
More Earthquake Updates
Those interested in giving to earthquake relief via UMCOR can do so by visiting:
Those wishing to be updated daily about the efforts or donate funds through the Amity Foundation are also welcome to do so by visiting:
From Longzhou, Ping An (Peace)!