On May 12, 2008, a devastating earthquake in China’s Sichuan province claimed almost 70,000 lives and injured countless others. Youth from all over China quickly took action to help in the recovery effort, including volunteers from the national student environmental movement, the “Green Long March.”
“The Sichuan earthquake only lasted about a minute but the rebuilding process will take five, ten years or even more,” says volunteer Wang Wei from Sichuan University. “Our generation and the next must continue this rebuilding work.”
In July 2008, Green Long March volunteers from 10 universities traveled to six earthquake-affected communities in rural Sichuan. Recovery work included teaching environmental education classes in tent schools and temporary youth centers, delivering donated supplies, and participating in key rebuilding projects.
“We hoped to help with reconstruction efforts by promoting and educating people about green building and offering our hands to strengthen the villagers’ efforts,” explains Kuili, the Green Long March Sichuan volunteer coordinator.
In the fall of 2008, Green Long March volunteers gathered substantial donations for books, school supplies and winter clothing from local businesses and aid organizations; including thermal underwear for primary school students and over 23,000 books on environmental topics for “Green Bookshelves.”
“Life must start again from the beginning. If environmental awareness can be raised now, then the rebuilding process will be influenced by conservation awareness, and communities will develop more sustainably,” says Kuili.
The Green Long March Sichuan Project is currently supporting approximately 3,000 villagers and has impacted an estimated 1 million people. In 2009, the projects will focus on economic recovery and “sustainable livelihoods,” including coordinating more effective sales channels and marketing for local organic produce and textile products.
For more background on Green Long March, please visit: www.futuregenerations.org.cn