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Project Sunrise - Rebuilding Schools in Western Sichuan


Joined: 2005-12-25
Points: 10
*Posted: Submitted by sxd (10) on Sat, 2008-05-24 03:21. | Subject: Project Sunrise - Rebuilding Schools in Western Sichuan

In one of the most tragic and destructive seismic events ever recorded in human history; thousands of young, energetic and hopeful children, working diligently at their school-desks in the rugged western foothills of largely Qiang-Tibetan Aba Prefecture and nearby counties, were caught completely unaware by the tremendous shock of a powerful earthquake which began ripping through their towns and villages on Monday, May the 12th, 2008 at 2:28 pm on an otherwise lazy, hazy Sichuan afternoon. In those terrifying few moments that followed; thousands lost their lives and a million dreams of sharing in the country’s new-found prosperity, were cruelly shattered.

I wept for them; and weep still. For they were after all, my students as well and they were and always will be a constant source of personal inspiration for me.

I am one of the very fortunate and few long-term Sichuan expats and I can count now over 18,000 former students on my classroom roll-call. Many of them were from the countryside. I have been blessed to have taught in over 70 schools in Sichuan in my time here and always took one or two countryside schools every term into my weekly workload. They were simply; a joy. What I saw in my rural students daily were the best in human qualities. Polite, inquisitive, respectful, appreciative, diligent, playful and all that coupled with that wide-eyed youthful innocence.

With this in mind; I have started, along with my long-time friend and colleague, Ms. Irene Lin (Lin Tao), what I have come to call “Project Sunrise”; not in any way as a commercial venture, nor as a registered charitable organization; but just to act as a conduit for those of you who may be searching for that one special way to help in the Sichuan relief effort, but may not know how to go about doing it.

Project Sunrise is concentrating its efforts currently on the schools under the jurisdiction of the Deyang Education Bureau, including those schools in both the urban and rural districts of MianZu, Shifang, HanWang and their surrounding county areas.

Statistics as of May 22nd, 2008

Student Death Toll: over 2,000
Seriously Injured Students: over 4,600
Collapsed Teaching Buildings: over 500,000 square meters

All funds donated will be held in trust by the Deyang Educational Fund Committee, which is authorized by the Deyang Education Bureau and which will be jointly available for auditing conducted by both the Deyang Municipal Auditing Bureau and any project donors.

Types of schools and investment required:

For a school with a fully-tiered educational system from Primary School, to Middle School, to High School, the total investment required will be around 9.5 million to 10 million RMB, which includes construction of all teaching buildings and basic furniture such as desks and chairs. There is a government fund-matching program, so donors can donate 50% or more of the total cost and those funds will be matched. (ie. Donation 5,000,000 RMB, matched by government for 5,000,000 RMB = 10,000,000 RMB for total project cost coverage) Donors may also name the school if they donate 50% of the cost or more.

For a countryside primary school (Grade 1 to Grade 6), the total investment required to construct a teaching building with 12-15 classrooms (about 2, 000 square meters) will be around 3 million Yuan. Again; fund matching is in effect, so a donation of 1,500,000 RMB builds a primary school. Donors may also name the school if they donate 50% of the cost or more.

On average, the cost per square meter for construction is around 1200-1500 RMB. This is up significantly from a few years ago, but reflects the upgraded quality of the new building as well, which is, as we all know now, the essential issue. All teaching buildings will now be limited to at most, 4 floors; and will be built to be able to withstand seismic activity and earthquakes up to 7.9 on the Richter scale.

Lesser amounts are still welcome and can be used to build ancillary buildings on the school campus or grounds.

The donor will sign an agreement with the Deyang Education Bureau and the Bureau will set up a trust account to hold the donated funds and make fully transparent and audited tranche payments from that account to the general contractor building the school, as construction progresses. The government is also very flexible as to the builder. Donors may choose their own, or may even provide skilled trades to be onsite and even provide volunteers or other paid trades to physically build the structure according to their own agreed upon and approved plans.

This time around, the effort to remain transparent is evident. No one wants to be on the wrong side of an inspection or investigation now, given what happened with older buildings in the quake zone. Still an onsite, third party inspector would be a good idea for parties or donors who cannot physically be present all the time. The government has promised unfettered access to all designs, plans, construction methods and materials to the designated monitor.

The following is a current list of the schools which were hit hardest by the quake and which will require complete rebuilding from the ground up:

In MianZhu (and surrounding areas):

ZunDao Zhen School
XiaoGan School
GuangJi School
Da XiJie Primary School

In ShiFang (and surrounding areas):

LuoShui Middle School
YinHua Middle School
ShiGu Zhen Democracy Primary School
BaJiao School

For contact details, please visit:

or email me at

Please also visit: a new site by the good folks at the Chengdu Bookworm. They have put in a Herculean effort to assist quake victims. My hats off to Peter Goff and the Bookwormites.

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