Steve Zou’s extended family in China lives 150 kilometres from epicenter of the devastating May 12 earthquake in Sichuan province, but even there, powerful aftershocks have damaged buildings and sent residents running from their houses.
“And this is far away,” says Dr. Zou, a Dalhousie professor with the Department of Civil and Resource Engineering. “You can’t help but feel helpless about a natural disaster of this scale.”
But members of Halifax’s Chinese community, with the help of the Chinese students’ associations at Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s, are rallying to raise money to aid relief efforts. In just a few days, students have raised more than $7,000, mainly by asking for donations from passersby at various downtown locations, including the Halifax waterfront, Scotia Square and Spring Garden Road.
Dr. Zou says while the time to search for survivors has passed, the need for assistance is greater than ever. The millions who survived are now struggling to find shelter, food and clean water. Others are coping with the threat of landslides, flooding and powerful aftershocks, which may last for two or three months.
Commerce student Jinbo Chen says the students are directing the money they raise to the Canadian Red Cross. The money—which will be matched dollar for dollar by the Canadian government to the end of June—will be used to provide temporary housing, clean drinking water and medical care.
As well as soliciting donations, the students will hold a cultural performance on Saturday, June 7, 7 p.m. at the McNally Auditorium at Saint Mary’s University. Admission is $5 and all proceeds will go to the Canadian Red Cross.
"A large number of the international students on campus are from China, and many of our professors have family living there,” says Dalhousie President Tom Traves. “Through the Dalhousie Chinese Student and Scholars Association, they have raised significant funds in an impressively short time. I'd like to personally recognize their efforts in making a practical difference during this ongoing humanitarian crisis."
The death toll from the 7.9-magnitude earthquake has risen to more than 67,000 and another 20,000 people are still reported missing. More than 360,000 people are injured and 11.3 million people displaced, according to the emergency response office of the state council. In addition, 5,500 children are now orphans as a result of the earthquake, according to Sichuan provincial civil affairs department.
To support the fundraising efforts of the Dalhousie Chinese Student and Scholars Associaton, you can drop off donations with Steve Zou at the Faculty of Engineering on Dalhousie’s Sexton Campus (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the Canadian Red Cross in Halifax with your pledge at 902-424-1427. You can also donate online at www.redcross.ca/china.html.
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