Rebuilding Hope: Chenjia Village Rises from the Rubble after Gansu Earthquake

After the devastating earthquake that struck China’s Gansu Province on December 18th, Chenjia Village in Jishishan County emerged as one of the worst-hit areas. The earthquake, which occurred unexpectedly in the dead of night, left a trail of destruction, tearing down or flattening the homes of 2000 residents. Amidst the ruins, however, a glimmer of hope is emerging, fueled by the locals’ resilience and the aid provided by government and volunteer groups.

Ma Gahu, a villager from Chenjia, vividly recalls the fear and chaos that unfolded during the earthquake. With his family, he experienced the collapse of their home, forcing him to make split-second decisions to ensure their safety. His memories, once filled with happiness, are now overshadowed by the trauma of that fateful night.

Ma Heimai, another resident, struggles to recognize what remains of his home. With the electricity cut off and his bedroom door sealed shut, he and his family had to escape through a window into the darkness. Their escape included a 40-day-old baby and an 80-year-old woman, highlighting the diverse challenges faced by the villagers during the disaster.

Chenjia Village, predominantly inhabited by Muslims, faced significant damage to its mosque, a central hub for the community. Sun Yonghua, an accountant at the mosque, laments the disruption to their daily prayers caused by the damage. Despite the freezing temperatures, daily prayers have been relocated to a parking lot in front of the damaged mosque, emphasizing the resilience of the community’s faith in the face of adversity.

The earthquake claimed the lives of an estimated 22 villagers, all of whom were painstakingly recovered from the rubble by their neighbors. The simplicity of the adobe houses, the primary dwellings in the village, contributed to the tragedy. Ma Gahong, a villager, expresses the economic limitations of the community, stating, “We are just peasants. We can’t afford good materials to build our homes.”

Imam She Hu Sai Ni leads the community in prayers despite tears and a heavy heart. He emphasizes the interconnectedness of humanity, regardless of religious or cultural differences. He acknowledges the assistance the government and various volunteer groups provided, underscoring the unity that emerges during times of crisis.

Chenjia Village is now a hive of activity, with rescue teams from across China working tirelessly to relocate villagers and rebuild their lives. The government and volunteer groups have provided immediate relief and support. Although there is a long road ahead, the villagers draw strength from the knowledge that they are not alone in their journey toward recovery.

The earthquake in Gansu Province brought forth destruction and despair, but Chenjia Village also revealed the indomitable spirit of a community determined to rebuild. The stories of individuals like Ma Gahu Ma Heimai and the unwavering faith of the villagers paint a poignant picture of resilience. As efforts continue to restore normalcy, the unity displayed in the face of tragedy serves as a beacon of hope for Chenjia and other affected communities in Gansu Province.