Chinese children reach out to quake victims

June 1st, 2008 - 9:27 am ICT by admin  

Beijing, June 1 (Xinhua) Beijing preschooler Song Qinhao spent more than one hour selling her toys at a market. “Would you take this teddy bear for two yuan (28 US cents)?” the five-year-old would ask anyone who passed by her stand on the campus of Beijing University.

The sticker and yellow ribbon on her shirt said it was a charity sale to raise funds for those who lost their homes in the May 12 quake in the southwestern Sichuan province.

“If you buy this, the money you pay will be donated to Sichuan so that boys and girls there will get food and clothes,” Song said to anyone who questioned her motive.

The girl’s eloquence even surprised her mother, a Beijing schoolteacher.

At least 10 people opened their wallets — university students, teachers, tourists and even a junkman. Everyone paid more than the two yuan she asked for.

At the end of the sale, she earned nearly 100 yuan, which she proudly put into the charity box.

About 180 children, aged from three to 11, joined the charity sale organised by, a Beijing-based outdoor club for children.

“They collected more than 14,000 yuan,” said Zuo Zhenchao, organiser of the event. “We have remitted the money to China Charity Federation for quake relief.”

Before the charity sale, Zuo said he held a candlelight vigil with the children to mourn the quake dead and made paper storks — the auspicious bird symbolising long life and health — for the survivors.

The sale was a new experience for most children, he said. “The most successful little fundraiser sold a newspaper carrying photos of the quake scene for 100 yuan. While many others sold tape recorders and more expensive items for only five yuan.”

The test was not in the amount they collected, but in the opportunity they were given to step into society, feel the love and care from complete strangers and pass on the same to the needy people, said Zuo, a former preschool teacher who founded the outdoor club for children in 2002.

The 8.0 magnitude quake hitting Sichuan and some neighbouring provinces May 12 has killed nearly 69,000 people and another 23,000 still untraced.

The worst natural disaster to hit China in more than three decades has prompted humanitarian feelings among the Chinese and nearly everyone, including children, has reached out to help.

Across China, children emptied their coin banks and donated every cent to the quake zones.

Without any pocket money, a 14-year-old schoolgirl in the eastern Anhui province sold her waist-long hair to a wig maker and donated the 105 yuan she got.

“I just wanted to help. It’s painful to see those homeless people,” said Yue Jingwen, who studies at a vocational school in Fuyang City.

Chen Yuhou, a primary school student in the eastern Zhejiang province, has told his parents not to buy him any gifts for Children’s Day, the June 1 holiday for Chinese children under 14 years old.

“I want to save the money for my peers in the quake-hit areas of Sichuan,” he said.

No gift, no theatre, no more trips to amusement parks. Yu and his classmates have pledged.

As the earthquake toppled many school buildings in Sichuan, some students have been transferred to other provinces to continue their education.

Wherever they go, local children have opened their arms.

Gaotai Yifu primary school is located in the suburbs of Yinchuan, capital of the northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and most students are from impoverished families. But that didn’t deprive the children’s ability to express love: they saved their best pencils and exercise books for Zhang Luye, a girl from Anxian County in the hardest hit city of Mianyang.

“I was moved when so many children told me they wanted to save the best for Zhang and hoped she would feel happier,” said their teacher Yang Hongxia.

“My dear little pals, we’re all members of one big family, even though we don’t know each other and are miles apart,” a primary school student in Shanghai wrote in a letter to the quake-affected children in Sichuan, not knowing who was to read his message.

At least 20,000 such un-addressed letters were mailed from Shanghai Friday carrying the city children’s affectionate and encouraging words for their pals. Another 200,000 will follow before Sunday.

Shanghai’s post offices have promised to send these letters for free to Sichuan province, and postal services in Sichuan will deliver them to young quake survivors in hospitals and schools.

“You’re not alone,” many children wrote. “We’re here with you. Be brave and be strong for the sake of those rescuers who pulled you from the ruins, for the sake of your teachers who sacrificed their own lives for you and for everyone who cares for you.”

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