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Church exhibition highlights plight of Sichuan quake victims


May 08 2009

Church relief agency Caritas-Macau is marking the first anniversary of the devastating Sichuan earthquake with a photo exhibition and charity program to highlight the plight of survivors.


A young girl views the Caritas-Macau exhibition

The massive quake almost a year ago left 80,000 dead and attracted worldwide media attention.

Caritas-Macau was part of the relief effort, had has raised about 4 million yuan (about US$586,000) in Macau to rebuild a school.

It is now holding a photo exhibition that will run until May 12 at a Caritas community. It features about 80 photos showing the heart-rending scenes left in the wake of the 8.0 magnitude quake that tore apart lives and homes in southwest China.

The exhibition also includes pieces of debris from and items associated with the aid program. These include a pair of shoes and a quilt that Caritas donated to victims, as well as the "hope handkerchief" sold to raise funds for the quake-hit areas at a candlelight vigil organized by Caritas-Macau a month after the disaster.

In one corner of the library, visitors can write a message of support that Caritas staff will deliver to the survivors as a sign that their plight has not been forgotten.

The exhibition has already touched many hearts. Chan Sut-ieng, 10, told UCA News that the plight of the people in Sichuan had made her so sad that she is donating part of her pocket money regularly to help them.

The exhibition also documents life after the disaster and the efforts of aid agencies and the local authorities to try to return the region to normality.

Many of the pictures have been provided by government departments in Wenchuan, the epicenter of the earthquake.

Another 80 photographs were taken by Caritas-Macau´s own staff, taken when relief workers delivered supplies and comforted victims, many of whom lost everything in the tragedy.

On the evening of May 12, the anniversary of the day the disaster struck, the exhibits will be moved to Praca do Tap Seac, an open-air public square near St. Lazaro´s Church where there will be a fundraising event.

The two-hour program will start with a video that reviews the quake and the relief and reconstruction work.

Bishop Jose Lai Hung-seng of Macau will appeal for more donations while two quake survivors will tell their harrowing stories of the calamity.

One was buried under rubble for 20 hours before being rescued and both have become volunteers to continue to help their fellow survivors.

A Caritas school choir and three local singers will perform inspirational songs and there will be a charity bazaar.

Caritas has launched a widespread public relations campaign in Macau to draw attention to the event and has invited individuals, social groups and schools that have made donations through Caritas to come for the commemoration.