The Blackford Trust - Investing in Talent in Scotland and China

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Please note The Blackford Trust is now closed - this page is retained for purely historic interest

Xie Zi Village, Chengdu

Our support

We have assisted a community support project in Xie Zi village, west of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, an area impacted by the 12 May 2008 earthquake. This project was undertaken in partnership with George Watson's College, Edinburgh, and Hands on Chengdu. The site was formally opened at a ceremony on 7 March 2010, attended by the Trust.

Background to our partners

Xie Zi village

Xie Zi village is part of Ji Guan Shan town, Chongzhou city, and is situated in a rural mountainous area west of Chengdu. It is some 25km from Wenchuan, the epicentre of the 12 May 2008 earthquake, and suffered one person dead and 10 injured, as well significant damage to housing, roads and other facilities, primarily from landslides and flooding. This required the evacuation of the village in the immediate aftermath of the quake.

At the time we became involved in 2009, the local people and village authorities were beginning to rebuild Xie Zi - this includes repairing roads, strengthening embankments, and clearing the local riverbed of obstructions. The local tourism industry was beginning to be re-established as well. The first three photos below (from late April 2009) show some general views of the village and local reconstruction work underway amidst the demanding local terrain. The final three show our former Chairman, Graham Thompson, with Hands on Chengdu staff and local officials at the opening ceremony on 7 March 2010 ; Graham presenting an illustrated history of George Watson's College to the village during the ceremony ; and continuing reconstruction work.

Photos courtesy of Hands on Chengdu

The community support facility has been built on the site of the original activity centre in the village, and used refurbished and specially refitted shipping containers to deliver accessible and attractive facilities for the local population. Based alongside a new social services centre, it comprises a library, vocational training room and medical centre, as well as a basketball court, play area, seating areas. The site is managed locally and staffed, in part, by local volunteers from Chengdu.

George Watson's College (see also www.gwc.org.uk)

This Edinburgh school has a well-developed Chinese language programme having taught Chinese since 1994. Recently it increased its provision of Chinese language lessons with the introduction of SQA examination qualification classes and the option to learn Chinese as a language in Senior 1. Please see here for our other co-operation with this school.

A student party visited China in March 2008, on a two week visit which included a trip to Chengdu. Following the Sichuan earthquake, the George Watson's students raised the very significant sum of £4,000, which has provided the bulk of the Scottish support for this project at Xie Zi village. We are extremely grateful to the students, staff and friends of George Watson's College for their fantastic fundraising efforts for this project.

Hands on Chengdu (see also www.handsonchengdu.org)

Through its previous disaster relief experience in areas like New Orleans, the Philippines, and Florida, the Hands On organisation recognized early that the recovery and rebuilding efforts following the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan would require an innovative and long term effort to support those affected. Hands on Chengdu was created in summer 2008, and is working with local government agencies, NGOs and local people to bring a long term impact to affected communities. Hands on Chengdu recruits, trains, and manages volunteers in the city and the surrounding area.

Hands on Chengdu is leading the Xie Zi project in partnership with the local government, and with support from corporate donors, provided the containers, their equipment and other materials for the site. Hands on Chengdu volunteers from the local area support the staffing of the facility.

Outcomes and lessons

Construction of the Xie Zi facility began in mid-May 2009. Following repairs to an access road damaged by flooding in summer of that year, the containers were shipped to the village in December 2009 - see this news item from our partners in China.

Graham Thompson, our former Chairman, attended a opening ceremony for the new centre in Xie Zi on 7 March 2010, alongside representatives from Hands on Chengdu and Sparch Asia, one of the other foreign donors.

He read out a message from George Watson's College to the people of Xie Zi, which noted that “the world is becoming more and more a large community, and we are happy to be part of a project to link our country with yours”.

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This page was last updated on 18 July 2016.


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