First national legal holiday a time to spend with quake-affected people 2008-06-06 21:02:21   Print

Special report: Reconstruction After Earthquake

    by Wu Chen

    BEIJING, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Gan Quan has been busy these days in answering phone calls from people who are volunteering to work in quake-hit Sichuan Province during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday.

    On the online website "Q-Bar," on behalf of a travel fan club, Gan called for people to go to Sichuan Province and spend the Dragon Boat Festival holiday on June 8, the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, together with quake-affected people.

    At the end of last year China rescheduled its national legal holidays, adding three traditional Chinese festivals, including the "Tomb-Sweeping Day," "Dragon Boat Festival" and "Mid-Autumn Festival," as legal holidays.

    Chinese people, this year, for the first time, can have one day off on the Dragon Boat Festival and have a three-day vacation over the weekend.

    "It's the first national holiday after the May 12 earthquake. Quake-affected people may feel different and long for care and attention," Gan said.

    He said the Chongqing-based club planned to enroll about 25 volunteers to go to Mianzhu City of Sichuan.

    Candidates were required to have basic outdoor survival skills, and what's more important, not allowed to take cameras.

    "We hope to offer some real help, not a three-day tour to the quake zone," he said.

    On May 17, the club set up a temporary relief station in Jiulong Town of Mianzhu, collecting and distributing goods in urgent need to the survivors, setting up tents and accompanying quake-affected children, Gan told Xinhua.

    So far, there have been nearly 100 volunteers manning the station during weekends. Gan has been there twice.

    "I'm just trying to do my part for the quake relief," he said.

    In searching "Dragon Boat Festival" and "quake-hit areas" on the Internet, many similar posts or stories can be found.

    It has been reported that the Yunnan Provincial Red Cross Society was organizing local people to drive to Sichuan, to bring Zongzi, a pyramid-shaped dumpling wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves and usually eaten in the Dragon Boat Festival. They are also delivering other goods, including tents, quilts and gauze masks.

    However, other have failed to make it to the quake zone, despite wanting to go.

    A lady surnamed Liu, working in an advertising company, said she had to work overtime during the vacation.

    "I decided to donate the overtime pay to quake survivors," she said.

    Her idea was echoed by the website "2008 Chinese Festivals," which called on netizens to "help quake-affected people during the holiday by various means." This included donating "overtime pay, to send Zongzi to them, especially children, and to extend condolence to them."

    A special evening party about quake relief was also being arranged and is to be broadcasted during the holiday for quake-affected people.

    Xia Xueluan, a professor with the Department of Sociology at Peking University, said people missed their relatives and friends more during festivals, especially those who had just survived the major disaster and others who had lost their family members.

    The May 12 earthquake in the southwestern Sichuan Province had killed nearly 70,000 so far. It had also left more than 370,000 injured and nearly 18,000 missing.

    "It's of great significance to care for them during the holiday," he said.

    However, he said people can show their care for quake survivors in a variety of ways. There was no need for everybody to go to the quake zone as volunteer.

    "Don't add unnecessary burden to the quake-hit areas and the survivors," he said, adding that doing everyone's own job well was the best help for quake-affected people.

    Gan said he would stay in Chongqing during the holiday as he had something personal to deal with.

    "My mind is with them," he said.

Editor: Du Guodong
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