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China Earthquake Relief - Loans for Village Rebuilding

Region: China
Author: ECOLOGIA (Vermont & Chengdu, China) and Rabbit King, Sichuan Province
Consortium Member: Virtual Foundation Director (ECOLOGIA)
Status: Needs Funding Budget: $90000 Collected: $52338 Needs: $37662
Goal: ECOLOGIA's base of operations in China is Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Our project site is in the mountains west of Chengdu, where the earthquake damage was greatest. We are using our existing on-the-ground capacity to deliver post- emergency relief aid to earthquake survivors. This includes support for rebuilding and repairing damaged homes and village infrastructure.
The Progress Report, May-December 2008 explains what we have achieved so far. It also lays out plans to continue and expand the work as part of ECOLOGIA's long-term commitment to poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
Comment: Our goal is to encourage villagers to engage in reconstruction that will be more earthquake resistant and also more environmentally friendly. We are avoiding some of the problems of post-Katrina and post-tsunami construction where people rebuilt the same kinds of inappropriate dwellings. In addition, we are using this opportunity to seed the creation of community funds. Reconstruction and repair loans will be repaid to the community trust fund (over a period of one to five years). The community fund will then be used to promote environmentally and socially sustainable development, in response to the perceived needs of the villagers.

Individual Donors: Anonymous [Colorado, Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Mexico, Kentucky, Vermont, Kansas, Virginia]; John Allen, Kentucky; Matthew Amoss, Louisiana; Diana Bain, Vermont; Sarah Bender, Colorado; Richard Bennett, Utah; Chris Bohjalian, Vermont; Jordan Brener, Vermont; Kate Brittain, California; Chris Carlson and Marty Wolf, Colorado; May Chan, Paris FRANCE; David and Jane Chaplin, Alabama; Zachary Chen, Illinois; John and Julie Conroy, Maryland; Ellie Coriell, Colorado; Jane Detwiler, Massachusetts, Catherine Donnell, Colorado ; Elizabeth Engelman, California; Jennifer Finn, Colorado; Jamie Kyra Fuchs, Connecticut; for Kim Gormley, from Tina Holland, Massachusetts; Sara Grantstrom, Vermont; Michelle and Chris Hair, Colorado; Janet Hale, Connecticut; Ann L. Hanson, Ohio; Joe and JoAnne Henjum, Colorado; Nancy Henjum, Colorado; Jamie Henn, California; Gen A Izutsu, New Hampshire; Gayle R Jordan, Colorado; Beth Kemp, Colorado; Daniel Knowlton, New Hampshire; Deborah Knowlton, New Hampshire; Nora Lamm, New Mexico; Hugo Lara, Connecticut; Liza Levy, Kentucky; Patty and Andy Leyland; Mike and Nancy Maday, Colorado; Caitlin Matthews, Oregon; Sandra McCalmon, Colorado; Vernon and Shirley Mollan, Minnesota; Judith A. Nolan and Elizabeth Wiernasz, Connecticut; Maria Myra Palmero, New York; Alexander Paraschos, Massachusetts; Ardith Pierce, Kansas; MacKenzie Roebuck-Walsh, Japan; Guy Scarborough, Colorado; Brian Siegele, Colorado; Vu Tran, Maryland; Lilian Vince, New York; Christina Winker, Massachusetts; Benjamin Young, Colorado; Robin Young, Pennsylvania; For Jodie Zhang - Sue Ma. Massachusetts; Zachary Zimmerman, New Hampshire

Organization Donors: Church Communities Foundation, New York; Westwood Hills Church Social Action and Outreach Board, California; Springs Mountain Sangha,a Zen Buddhist Community, Colorado; Middlebury College 5K Fun Run (for Burma/Myanmar and China disaster relief) May 22, Vermont; Summer Solstice Celebration of First Congregational Church in Colorado Springs; Church Communities - UK; St. Paul Central High School Roots and Shoots, Minnesota; Green Across the Pacific, Vermont; Chengdu International Women's Club with support from the local and expatriate Chengdu community

Volunteers for ECOLOGIA's Earthquake Relief Efforts (on the ground in Chengdu): Meg Young, Colorado; Kate Leyland, Connecticut; Xuefeng Liao ("Quincy"), Vermont; Daniel Knowlton, New Hampshire; Dr. Robbie Ali, Pennsylvania; Huang He, HUNGARY; Stephanie Ellis, Ohio; Miko Heller, California.

Budget: Ongoing - the more donations we receive, the more villages and families we will be able to serve.

At this time in China's development, we have the opportunity to contribute international resources, including money for loans to villages to rebuild homes and infrastructure such as bridges. These resources can be used effectively when on-the-ground partnerships exist (as they do in our case) and when governmental agencies are open to cooperation to assist in reconstruction (as they are in Sichuan province, and in China as a whole). Because of ECOLOGIA's local roots and contacts in the earthquake-affected region, we are able to deliver assistance, in the form of loans to villagers, along with guidance on sustainable choices of materials and structural design.

Our partners in Dayi, Sichuan Province (100 kilometers west of Chengdu)are Ren Xuping and Zhang Shuping, (the "Rabbit King and Queen"). They have survived the earthquake, are in communication with us, and are committed to contributing their resources and knowledge of local conditions to implement the Earthquake Relief project.

We are drawing on existing expertise and on-the-ground resources, including:

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! The more quickly we can get this program up and running, the more able the villagers will be to rebuild and move on with their lives. Your contribution in any amount is much needed, and will be deeply appreciated.

May 29: Updates from earthquake zone

UPDATE MAY 29: Coverage in the China Daily describes the loans to residents of Qili Village:

Small loan is big help

By Xie Fang; Updated: 2008-05-29 13:25

Randy Kritkausky (left) and Wang Yu, a Qili villager who got a micro-loan from the former's organization, in Qili village near Chengdu yesterday. Jiang Dong

DAYI, Sichuan: No dazzling lights, no props. The temporary stage was no more than a small shed in the front yard of a farmer's house. Covered only by colorful waterproof cloth, the 5-sq-m shed was so low that people had to bow their heads to get in.
Inside were being played Western pop songs: the first music to be heard in Qili village after the earthquake.
The humble shed is the most beautiful place he has seen in Sichuan, Randy Kritkausky said. He is overwhelmed by the hospitality and warmth the villagers have extended to him.
The ECOLOGIA president and three other local members of the organization think yesterday's show will encourage the villagers to focus on reconstruction. They have given out small loans to nine families of Dayi county, 40 minute's drive from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan.
A cooperative venture between the American NGO and Sichuan Xuping Rabbit Industry Co, the micro-finance project has given 1,000 yuan ($143) each to nine families, who have one year to pay back the amount. "Our goal is to make the devastated farmers capable enough to help themselves. That's why we don't give them money directly," Kritkausky said. "The money they repay will go to the local community to create more facilities."

About 80 percent of the houses in the 250-family Qili village were damaged or destroyed in the quake. But only one elderly villager died because most of the villagers were working in fields when the quake struck.

Xie Bo couldn't hide his excitement after getting the loan. The 28-year-old even sang My Chinese heart at the ceremony, accompanied by his little daughter's dance. "The money is not much, but it's meaningful," he said. "Even some plain dumplings can make a hungry man happy."

Wang Yu was among the first batch of eight applications to get a loan to develop his rabbit-raising venture two months ago. Now, the 18-year-old is the cashier of the village project. The procedure to get a loan is simple, Wang said. Three families have to form a unit and submit an application to him to get a loan. After that, project staff will visit the town to check the veracity of their claims. "The loan will be given in the village rather than a bank, which is convenient for the farmers who always find it difficult to handle paper work," he said.

Eight-year-old Chen Yanping, is the youngest to sign a loan contract. The little girl's father works in the Tibet autonomous region and her grandparents are illiterate, so she had to sign the contract for them. She does not know how the loan came about, but she does know that her family needed it urgently. Though she is yet to overcome the shock of the quake, she was smiling while playing with other children at the ceremony.

"The world is watching China after the quake, and we saw a great deal of tragedy through the Western media. But what I have discovered here is hope. People smile and even sing what strong character they've got," Kritkausky said. "I think China's most remarkable event in 2008 should not be just the Beijing Olympic Games, but also the earthquake that has shown the strength and warmth of the Chinese people."

(China Daily 05/29/2008 page3) "Small Loan is Big Help" China Daily

UPDATE MAY 16: From Du Heng, ECOLOGIA's Chinese Program Director, Chengdu:

"Dear all,
Thank you so much for working day and night with all of Chinese in this difficult time, I'm very proud to be with all of you!
After reading your emails, and with all the information I've collected, a more clear picture shaped up, and I will try to put it together as below:
1. The situation:
The rescue has been progressed steadily, a lot of people have been evacuated from destroyed houses, but they are in great need to clean water, medicine, and food. Phisicians and medicine are greatly needed.
2. Ren and Zhang's [Note: Ren and Zhang Xuping, our partners in Dayi (100 kilometers / 70 miles west of Chengdu) the "Rabbit King and Queen"] situation:
Their old farm and new farm has been badly damaged during the shock, lots of rabbits run away, their staff and students have no place to live because the building is dangerous to stay, which is the biggest problem they are facing now. The government provided them 4 tents, but that's far from enough.

Now they've divided themselves into 3 groups, one group will be responsible for rebuilding the farm and factory, continue the production; another group goes to the project sites to evaluate the losses of our project farmers. (according to their feedback, our project farmers in Qili Village, most of their houses are moderate damaged, but still can live, their rabbits are fine, comparing with other villages, Qili village farmers are very lucky, no losses of lives.) Ren and Zhang are the 3rd group, they worked with other entrepreneurs and Government officials to the most earthquake-striken areas to deliver water, food and medicine. I met them in person yesterday, they were tired physically, but have very high morale.

3. CSR network:
Ren and Zhang have been discussing with me about how to help needy people more efficiently, how to integrate more resources. The Sichuan Entreprenure Network (I used to mentioned this organization with you before) would like to work with RKPARC - [Rabbit King Poverty Alleviation Research Center] to take initiative to organize SREs together to help more people, they also would like to cooperate with foreign experts and donors for more guidance and inputs.

4. Volunteer:
We belive the volunteer and physician you have found will greatly help our work for the coming weeks. The volunteer [who is fluent in Mandarin, Sichuan dialect, and English] can provide 1st hand information back to US as you suggested, the physician can serve as trainer for the volunteers who will be dispatched to different striken areas organized by Sichuan Youth League, which Ren and Zhang has strong connection with.

5. Randy's visit [Randy Kritkausky, President of ECOLOGIA]:
Now our government started to accept international aid like from Japan and Singapore, we think there will be no problem for Randy's coming. Also Ren has special lisence(pass entrance), he and Zhang can take Randy around to see the true story, they've promised to me they both will take care of Randy when you come. I think it is a great idea for Randy come back to Chengdu and get the freshest news from field back to US people and potential donors. If you feel ready, you can start work on your flight schedule. Pls make sure you will not be stressed out for the long trip in such a short period of time.

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