Families celebrate 10th birthday of refuge project

The Ankang Home in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, received 712 children rescued from the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake that happened on May 12, 2008.

Children orphaned by the devastating earthquake and volunteers return to the Ankang Home to mark the 10th anniversary. The huge banner reads: "Ten years since Wenchuan earthquake, we have grown up."

A special group of people returned to the Ankang Home in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the home project, which opened for orphans after the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, which left nearly 90,000 dead and missing.

Together with the volunteers, who are known as the “Ankang moms and dads,” the Ankang children shared stories of their lives spent in the home and what they have been doing over the past 10 years.

Xiao Yu was only 13 when both of her parents died in the devastating earthquake. Now she’s a teacher teaching Chinese language at a high school.

“We lost our loved ones in the earthquake, and I used to feel helpless and hopeless. Without the love and support of the Ankang moms and dads, my sister and I wouldn’t have had the courage to face the days ahead. We’re fortunate to be part of one big happy family,” she said.

Set up by the All-China Women’s Federation, China Children and Teenager’s Foundation and Rizhao Steel, the Ankang Home received 712 children rescued from the earthquake that happened on May 12, 2008. Except for the 40 kids who later found their parents, 672 orphans remained and settled at Ankang — the oldest was 19 and the youngest 4.

Over the past decade, the Ankang Home has seen dozens of children grow up and leave every year. Now 48 children remain at the refuge home. Among them, five are in junior high schools, 20 in high schools and the rest are in vocational schools.

Of the 600 or so who left, 282 entered college, 342 have either found a job or joined the army. Some have even raised families of their own.

Official data revealed that 45 percent of the children who grow up in the Ankang Home received higher or advanced education.

It is believed that the success was down to the focus on the home’s psychological intervention in the process of rehabilitation.

The Ankang Home collaborated with several domestic institutions and hospitals and carried out regular training with volunteers in psychological counseling.

“The past 10 years has proved that Ankang Home can be a practical emergency aid model in the future for orphans needing rehabilitation after disasters,” said Zhu Xisheng, secretary-general of China Children and Teenager’s Foundation. “With government support, company funding and supervision of public welfare organizations, Ankang Home will eventually complete its mission to support all of its children to finish their schooling and become self-sufficient.”

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