Temblor's deathly shadow finally exorcised

Updated: 2013-04-06 08:10

By Erik Nilsson (China Daily)

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Five years after the devastating Wenchuan earthquake, survivors have rebuilt their lives, reports Erik Nilsson.

On Thursday, Tomb Sweeping Day, for the first time Hongbai Primary School did not organize visits to the graves of students and teachers who died in the Wenchuan earthquake. It has been five years since the disaster killed 159 children and eight teachers at the school and left about 90,000 dead or missing in Sichuan province. "It's time to move on," Principal Chen Shilin said.

Temblor's deathly shadow finally exorcised

A museum recently opened in Hanwang, near Dongfang's factory ruins. It was built beside an iconic clock tower frozen at 2:28 pm, the moment the Wenchuan earthquake struck on May 12, 2008. [Photo by Cui Meng / China Daily]

"On the first Qingmingjie (Tomb Sweeping Day), we went to the graves and sobbed. We planted a tree and laid a floral wreath in front of every student's headstone. Every year since, we've been less ceremonial."

This year, the school instead took students to a war martyrs' cemetery. Students and staff members can visit the quake graves on their own, Chen said.

"The disaster's shadow has finally left," Chen said.

The temblor's pall has been scrubbed away by years of therapy, volunteer projects and government-funded reconstruction.

Temblor's deathly shadow finally exorcised

Outside the Wenchuan Earthquake Victims Cemetery at Yingxiu township in Wenchuan county, Sichuan province. [Photo by Cui Meng / China Daily]

Huaxin Hospital experts tested Hongbai's children last year and found trauma levels have become "negligible", Chen said.

Experts from the hospital and the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups counseled the children and trained teachers. Sichuan University volunteers and the primary school students exchanged essays about the meaning of life.

And such organizations as Small Hand, Big Hand and Low-Income Visionary Education helped, too. "The children know that people from all walks of life love and care about them," Chen said.

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