Update from Sichuan, China - July, 2008

More than a month after the quake that struck Sichuan province, there is much that Global Hand members can do to help. Currently, there are a reported five million homeless, almost 70,000 dead, and thousands more missing.

Thousands of aftershocks and the constant threat of flooding have put millions already devastated by the quake at further risk. Over “quake lakes” have formed as a result of damaged dams and blocked rivers. Annual flood rains causing mudslides and the risk of flooding have seen a further 70,000 people evacuated from their homes.

The Chinese government has responded with a monumental relief effort providing shelter and emergency response provisions to the millions in need. Global Hand created a REACT page that lists humanitarian actors responding to this disaster. We are finding that, in crises of this kind, effective information sharing facilitates collaboration and greater efficiencies. A time like this sees NGOs partnering with other NGOs, as well as business groups, and helps underline the value of the role that Global Hand itself can play. Global Hand has, in fact, experienced a huge outpouring of goodwill as the international community has been moved to respond to the desperate needs of the Chinese people. Global Hand has been interacting with corporate and NGO sectors, as well as the Chinese Government, matching available resource with appropriate scenarios. By way of example, Global Hand accredited organisations, Smile International, Mercy Corps and Crossroads Global Distribution have launched fundraising appeals to support their partners on the ground.


Mercy Corps initially sent 22 truck loads of emergency relief supplies, and has begun distributing 20,000 “School and Family Kits”. Crossroads Global Distribution has sent 15 tonnes of plastic sheeting, blankets and medical supplies, and a further two containers of relief supplies into the quake zone. Blythswood Care is sending a container of tarpaulins and tents.

“The people are relieved for a moment when you bring them the goods,” said one Global Hand representative who has been to the region. “But when we ask them about the future, their eyes well up in despair. Whole towns have gone. Fields for crops and livelihoods have been wiped out. We must be committed to helping these people in the long term.”

In an age when disasters are quickly forgotten, Global Hand is committed to playing its part in keeping the needs of this crisis before our constituents. Given our headquarters, here in Hong Kong, we are in an ideal situation to give eyewitness account and can say, with conviction, that the road to recovery will be years, not months. We need to show our grit in standing with those affected for the long haul.