Sichuan quake through 100 lenses

By Xiong Zhi (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-05-29 14:38

In the shadow of skyscrapers at the Wangfujing shopping area, passers-by paused before the magnified images of suffering, resilience and hope.

Some took cell phone photos of Premier Wen Jiabao addressing quake survivors with sadness and weariness etched on his face. One family and their young son stopped at the image of a little boy on a stretcher, bleeding and covered in dust - yet still throwing his tiny hand up in a salute to his rescuers.

Photojournalists from around the country have met the challenge of documenting the quake's aftermath and the nation's united efforts to help victims of the disaster to bring such images to the public.

Their work is highlighted in a public photo exhibition launched on May 24, sponsored by national English language newspaper China Daily, the China Cultural Federation Publishing Company, and Beijing Bicycle Rental.

Titled 100 Photojournalists focus on the Great Earthquake, the series follows two previous collections: the SARS outbreak and last winter's devastating snowstorms. Located in front of Wangfujing Bookstore, the pictures have been drawing tourists, shoppers and residents.

The images made a deep impression on 78-year-old Dai Meishan, who recorded every photo on display. Nearly bald and hunchbacked, the senior was surprisingly agile with his camera. He was making a memento for himself, he said.

Dai, who lives alone, has also been recording televised coverage of the quake's relief and rescue efforts.

He hopes the government will produce books and discs on the quake, he said. But, when asked if he would contribute his material, he grinned widely and said his work was too amateur.

Despite two weeks of tireless media coverage on the quake, the display has touched people's hearts.

"I watch the news with tears," said Clem Randall, who came to visit his daughter, a volunteer for the Olympic Games. He plans to donate money to quake victims when he returns to Australia, through charities in his home country.

Nearby, the thriving shopping district showed other signs of citizens eager to participate in relief efforts. People lined up to donate blood at two Red Cross buses. One station collected 130 bags of blood before noon.

Three groups from Beijing's Dongcheng district came together for their project Donate 10 Yuan, Send Compassion to Wenchuan. Tuesday marked day one of their effort, which will continue for at least three more days. They have also set up a booth at Beijing Railway Station.

Donors stopped to stuff 10, 20, 50, and even 100 yuan ($14.38) bills into the donation box sandwiched between towering storefronts at Wangfujing. Each donor received a handcrafted bracelet of red and yellow ribbons. Working together, 100 volunteers made 3,000 bracelets in just one day.

Some stopped by to write encouraging messages on decorated paper. The notes are meant for young quake survivors, who will receive them around for Children's Day, June 1.

(China Daily 05/29/2008 page18)