Stories of Hope Emerge from Earthquake Rubble

A few stories of optimism are now emerging from the earthquake rubble. From the Wall Street Journal, tales of the entrepreneurial spirit that is helping ease the lives of displaced survivors:

The response of many in the disaster zone is a reminder of how profoundly capitalist ideas have taken hold in China in recent years. For nearly a decade, the private sector has created most of China’s jobs and more recently accounted for more than half the economy. Now, in the rubble of towns of Sichuan province, businesses are sprouting from under tents, inside car trunks and behind makeshift stands. And despite the government’s massive outpouring of food, shelter and cash, few victims seem to believe they will be living off charity indefinitely.

A little more than a month after the quake, some refugee camps are already curtailing the freebies by charging for food and items like toilet paper. Meanwhile, small businesses are opening to complement and sometimes to compete with the official outreach. Chinese characters posted in shops throughout the earthquake zone feature a new buzzword — “self-reliant.” The term also usually signals a discount.

Drawn by the roar of earthmovers in Jiangyou as government-run construction companies race to build tens of thousands of prefabricated aluminum homes, scores of budding entrepreneurs have piled into the area erecting makeshift shops and restaurants to feed the workers and the new residents. Grateful for free rice and water just a few weeks ago, the refugees now crave popsicles and cold beer.

And from The Times, news of the birth of a healthy baby to a woman who had been buried under 18 feet of rubble:

The baby has been named Ai, which means love, in honour of the rescue workers and people who have been kind to her mother Zhang Xiaoyan, 35, since her rescue.

“I was holding out hope during the earthquake that this day would come,” Ms Zhang said from her hospital bed in Urumqi. Her husband, Pan Yuncheng, is staying in a refugee camp in Dujiangyan.


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