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Feature: Be strong, my families: Chinese students in Russia tell quake-hit compatriots
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11:12, May 18, 2008

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It's enough. The cardboard box, wrapped with a red piece of paper on which the Chinese characters DONATION were printed, was too full to take any envelopes that were piled beside it and contained all sorts of donation money.

"I've never seen so many kinds of currencies," Wang Yanlong, chairman of the Association of the Chinese Students in Russia, said at a donation party for quake victims in China's southwest, where a magnitude-7.8 earthquake has claimed more than 28,000 lives since it occurred Monday. The number of casualties is still rising.

What makes Wang excited more is the preliminary sum of money the first batch of 543 Chinese university students and visiting scholars in Moscow donated on Saturday in the Chinese Embassy.

The accountants, also undergraduate volunteers, said the week-long donation campaign has collected on its first day a total of 265,886 rubles, 3,392 U.S. dollars, 7,160 Renminbi yuan, 170 euros, 1,150 Korean won and 10,000 Vietnamese dong.

All in all, the small portion of Chinese students in Russia have donated some 15,800 U.S. dollars, in wrinkled notes or handfuls of coins, while their monthly cost of living normally ranges from 300 to 400 U.S. dollars.

"Frankly speaking, some of my donations came from the fund my families provides me for my studies, but I do hope that it will offer some help to people in the quake-hit area and my family supports me on that," said Xia Yu, an undergraduate in her 20s majored in pharmacy.

She also said her family, which apparently enjoys better economic conditions in China, has promised to fund the rebuilding of a primary school in the quake-hit region.

It's more than enough, however, for those students who come from the quake-hit Sichuan province.

"I could not make any call through to my families the day when the earthquake happened, that nearly made me faint," said Lin Weiqi, whose family lives in Mianyang, a city near the epicenter.

Families of the comely girl survived the largest-ever disaster in the Sichuan basin, once renowned as the Country of Heaven.

According to Lin, her family are now living in camps on a playground of a nearby middle school to avoid aftershocks that are still frequent in the last six days.

Li Haolan, a 19-year-old girl with black long curly hair, recalled the first days after hearing the heart-breaking news from her hometown Jiangyou.

"My families are all OK, but some of my friends and acquaintances lost their lives in the quake," she said with sobs.

Jiangyou, a city in northern Sichuan, is located near Beichuan county and Mianyang, which were hit hardest by the quake estimated to affect some 10 million people and cause billions of dollars in damage.

"My father, a Communist Party cadre, is still organizing the disaster relief work in my hometown and I hope he will be safe and could have some rest," Li said, wiping her tears.

It's not enough. After sending to Sichuan dozens of humanitarian aid and several rescue teams, the Chinese students' association has further called on all Chinese students in Russia to raise donations for the quake-hit areas.

"Let's join hands in collective determination to help our compatriots in the quake-hit area to overcome difficulties and win the disaster relief campaign at an early date!" the association said in an appeal letter.

Source: Xinhua

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