Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Holding Onto Hope

The images of the disaster-struck areas in Sichuan Province after the earthquake are being broadcast on Chinese state media.

They are of roads broken up into big chunks, and piles of rubble where buildings used to stand. Rescue workers and soldiers are removing the debris, piece by piece with their bare hands, worried about disturbing the wreckage and cause further damage or injuries to those trapped below.

They have managed to pull out a few people alive, but many sustaining serious injuries.

There are sad stories coming out, especially at a school that collapsed in Dujiangyan, just south of the epicentre of the quake in Wenchuan.

Parents are waiting desperately for any signs of life from their children trapped below. But many bodies were recovered, and the grieving parents placed candles at the makeshift morgue in the school playground, wailing and regretting they sent their children to school.

There are scenes of makeshift hospitals literally on the road covered with tarps, people lying in stretchers with intravenous drips attached to them.

Premier Wen Jiabao is visiting the quake-hit areas, trying to comfort people. He was unable to stop a young girl from wailing in her mother's arms. All he could do was say that help was on the way.

While the mobilization of rescuers, medical staff and supplies has been swift, it's been difficult for them to get to the affected areas due to landslides covering roads.

And it's those pictures that have moved Chinese in the rest of the country to do their bit to help out.

There are pictures of people lining up to put money into donation boxes or giving blood.

This is a new shift of patriotism that only recently was a defense mechanism against the world.

Now they are banding together to help their own.

Perhaps now President Hu Jintao's "harmonious society" will finally be realized.

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