Li Gao and his classmates lost their homes and school to China's May 12 earthquake; supplies provided by World Vision are helping them start new lives.
Li Gao sits in a tarpaulin tent put up by his family.
Photo ©2008 Anita Zhao/World Vision
The summer holiday began early for 12-year-old Li Gao and his classmates in China, but the school year's abrupt ending brought no excitement.
His home and school in Baiyan Village, at the base of a steep hill in China's Sichuan province, were severely damaged by the deadly May 12 quake that rumbled through the region.
"The hillside was split apart, just like what was described in the myths!" Li exclaims, recalling the effects of the 8.0-magnitude temblor.
Not long after the quake struck, the rainy season set in. Threatened by the hill's collapse, Baiyan villagers were forced to evacuate to a safer, flatter piece of land nearby.
"Since the earthquake, I haven't been able to go to school," Li Gao told World Vision staff. "I can't live at home anymore, either. The village that I used to be so familiar with is gone. I have been really sad these days."
Help World Vision continue to deliver life-saving assistance to survivors of the China earthquake.
Many in China will remember the summer of 2008 for the international sporting events in Beijing, but those in Li Gao's community will remember trying to rebuild their lives.
In the initial days following the quake, the entire village squeezed together in just a few small tents, surviving on food and water provided by the government.
When World Vision brought more tents and tarps, families were able to spread out in an open field, far away from the danger of the hill's potential collapse.
"Now that every family has their own tents and tarpaulin shelters, which is a safer and more stable place to live in, I feel like this has become my new home," Li Gao says happily.
Having a home and a place to belong has given him a new source of hope.
'Just like the old days'
Li Gao enjoys spending time at World Vision's Child Friendly Space.
©2008 Anita Zhao/World Vision
Though Li Gao misses his studies and his friends from school, he often finds time to read his textbooks and revise his coursework. World Vision's Child-Friendly Spaces also provide a place for him to forget his worries and make new friends.
"Every time I play with other children at my school, I feel like I've gone back to our school just like in the old days," he says.
Establishing a new life
Though the old days are gone and their village is still uninhabitable, the families from Li Gao's community remain very positive, and many have resumed farm work.
While his parents travel up the hill to work in the field near their old village, Li Gao takes care of his 4-year-old brother, Li Lu, and cleans, does laundry, and cooks for his family.
Together with other villagers, Li Gao's father built a temporary kitchen using mud and clay. But Li Gao must search the gapping hills for wood, and can only cook in ideal conditions.
"I hate rainy days because I cannot go outside or cook outside," he says. "We can only have a simple meal of snacks, like crackers. It is such a hassle."
World Vision is providing gas stoves, pressure cookers, and liquid gas so villagers can resume their normal cooking routines.
Rebuilding still ahead
The local government built simple facilities to supply water and electricity to the tent area, and World Vision continues to provide daily necessities. Meanwhile, Li Gao and the rest of the villagers wait patiently for an announcement about the relocation of their village.
Eventually, they will be able to rebuild their homes and schools, but the process will not be easy. Rebuilding a village takes time.
Baiyan is just one of the remote villages in China where World Vision is committed to working over the next 2 to 3 years to help more than 1 million quake survivors rebuild their lives.
>> Read an eyewitness report
from World Vision's senior vice president, describing World Vision's relief work in the China quake zone.
>> Learn about Child-Friendly Spaces
and how they help young disaster survivors.
Three ways you can help
>> Pray for children and families in China affected by the deadly May 12 earthquake. Pray that, through the assistance of organizations like World Vision, children would be able to return to school, and families would begin healing as they rebuild their homes.
>> Donate now to help World Vision continue to deliver life-saving assistance to the survivors of the May earthquake in China.
>> Sponsor a child in China. Your love and support can make a critical, life-changing difference for a young one in need.