Zhou Ma withdrew into grief when she and her elder 25-year-old daughter were both widowed by the April earthquake in China’s western Qinghai province. Zhou Ma, who is 45, felt the heavy responsibility of caring also for her 15-year-old younger daughter and grandson who was only four. It was a family tragedy and she became depressed.
Volunteers from Caritas members and partner agencies could not coax her to speak when they visited, carrying dried milk and small gifts. But still they kept coming. After two months, Zhou Ma thanked them in a tiny, soft voice. “You came back. You are very good, you are really concerned about us.”Zhou Ma now frequently goes to the Mother and Babies Health Centre which is co-sponsored by Caritas Hong Kong and Caritas Korea. And now she talks about how she is rebuilding her life.
Three thousand people were killed in that earthquake in a remote and harsh area. Caritas Hong Kong’s local partner, Catholic Social Services Centre of Xian Diocese (CSSC–Xian), quickly responded with emergency food distributions. Caritas Taiwan and its partners brought food, medicine and warm clothes to help people endure the freezing night-time temperatures until the Chinese government could provide stoves and tents.