Sichuan quake survivors lead new lives, but recovery still far away (2)

13:35, May 12, 2011      

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Moreover, the center is paying special attention to officials who have been working around the clock during the past three years to meet deadlines for reconstruction projects.

"We have to drag them away from the computer and help them squeeze a little time to do sports, which is good for them to alleviate stress and strike a better work-life balance," Ren said.

The quake has probably cast a darker shadow over the lives of children, especially those who became disabled in the quake.

Sixteen-year-old Gao Xiaoqin, a girl with muscular arms, has never thought about a career, other than being an athlete.

"I just love sports," Gao said, adding that she had a preference for basketball and badminton.

Gao, born into a Tibetan family in Sichuan's Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, suffered a pelvis fracture during the quake, which left her left leg noticeably shorter than her right.

Now, she studies and receives rehabilitation treatments with more than 100 students who were also disabled in the quake at Youai School in Sichuan's Dujiangyan City, more than 200 km from her hometown.

"The disparity of her legs has been increasing," said Joy Phang, Gao's physiotherapist from Hong Kong.

Gao said she would feel painful after walking 20 to 30 meters or at the moment when standing up, and when she created a 90 degree angle in her left leg, the pain would be unbearable.

Gao has been practicing walking with crutches, as suggested by Phang, but it makes her an object of ridicule, as many of her amputee peers have managed to walk with artificial limbs.

She was previously looked after by her grandparents and currently by her elder sister, as her parents began working outside their hometown when Gao was only aged two.

"I often tell her to work harder in order to do office work, as no boss will hire her to do heavy manual work. But she is often annoyed," said her sister, who earns 1,500 yuan (about 231 U.S. dollars) a month by selling motorcycle parts in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan.

Sometimes, Gao answered her sister back, "You don' t have to worry about what I can do for a living. Mother and father have been away from home for a long time, and you should be the next to leave me."

Although the chance of achieving a full recovery is slim, Gao does not miss attending her rehabilitation training, because she has not given up her dream of being an athlete.

"It is an arduous task to help these children walk out of the shadow. They were long buried in darkness under the debris and some received amputations after being saved," said Cai Yuyi, a Hong Kong social worker who has begun accompanying those children disabled in the quake in Youai School since September 2009.

After the unimaginably horrible experiences, some students developed a strong fear of tremor, darkness and loud noises, or even refused to communicate with others, including their parents, Cai said.

We have been encouraging the children to vent their emotions through painting, singing and playing games, she said.

"One of the most noticeable changes is that they've become more buoyant and willing to talk about the quake. I told them that to cover a wound can't make it disappear," she said.

Some parents always dote on their disabled children to help heal their post-quake trauma, which is unnecessary and harmful, Cai said."After all, they have to face up to more hardships in the future by themselves."

However, other parents who lost their children in the quake might have long regretted that they had not given enough love to their darlings, as they will no longer have the chance.

In a large cemetery where thousands of quake victims were buried in Yingxiu Township, the epicenter of the quake, a tombstone is particularly noticeable.

A red rabbit doll sits on the tombstone of a seven-year-old girl.

2011 is the Year of Rabbit in the Chinese Lunar Year.
【1】 【2】

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