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When Sichuan smiles, hearts melt
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08:31, May 13, 2009

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For months, 12-year-old Liang Xinyi had recurring nightmares - colorless images of buildings crashing down to the ground, horrific sounds of people screaming in fear, in pain.

The quake survivor from Dujiangyan in Sichuan province said she was suffering from a psychological trauma.

"But suddenly things got better, and I started dreaming of beautiful things in February, soon after I returned from Saudi Arabia," she told China Daily.

Liang was one of the survivors invited to visit the Middle East after the disaster, which left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing.

And yesterday, the 12-year-old found a reason to smile. Saudi Ambassador to China Yahya A.S.Alzaid, who was visiting her hometown, along with 30 members of an international delegation, on the first anniversary of the quake, recognized Liang at once.

She broke into a smile, which stretched from ear-to-ear, and seemed to last forever.

"Liang is just like every other kid I met today. They all have very beautiful smiles, the hope for the future," the Saudi ambassador said. "We will keep inviting children from Sichuan to visit our country, as it is not only a program for psychological treatment, but also for strengthening friendship between the two sides," he said.

Alzaid said there was a remarkable difference in Dujiangyan with what he saw on the TV. "I am confident that the reconstruction program will finish on time."

The ambassador said he was particularly impressed with the attitude of the people of Sichuan.

"From children to adults I felt they really appreciate the help that has poured in."

German Ambassador Michael Schaefer, who was part of the visiting delegation, said he was impressed with the "Chinese government's transparency about the disaster relief work".

"The government made the figures of those dead and missing public, which is a big thing," he said.

The foreign media was free to visit quake-shattered sites and could tell the world about the kind of help China needed, he said. "That's why millions of Germans came out with donations for Sichuan."

Japanese Ambassador Yuji Miyamoto said he was "surprised to see the reconstruction work progressing so quickly".

"The Chinese government has the capability to organize the workforce in the face of such natural disasters," he said.

Daniel Piccuta, Charg d'Affaires of the US embassy, said the reconstruction work he has witnessed reassured him that Sichuan province would one day be beautiful again, and attract more tourists than ever before.

"I could see the people of Sichuan smiling. There was no better sight for me," Piccuta said.

Source: China Daily

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