What and how much has happened in nine months and a day?
Nine months and a day is the time that have passed since the first big earthquake hit the Southwest region of my homeland.
Since a month ago, a municipally-run library in the most affected area which has been largely closed off due to structural damages from the earthquakes has been able to resume services to check out the majority of books which had fallen out of shelves and needed repair. The library hopes to operate at full capacity by April and once again provide a safe place to study and learn.
Another activity resumed is a culture festival held in the town most gravely hit by the earthquakes. It had been held in October every year, but because too many of its citizens were affected, last year’s had to be postponed to this weekend. Twenty-one groups performed various forms of traditional arts, including a group of primary school students calling out “we can do it!” to the beat of traditional drums they have learned to play for this event.
This weekend was also a key couple of days for students looking to receive higher education, as a nation-wide aptitude test for admissions to college was held. Most of the young minds live their entire high school lives in preparation for this test (I have mixed feelings about this, but I will address my concerns some other time), so it would not be an overstatement to say that it is a matter of life and death if they lose time and/or place to study.
Maybe it felt like a death sentence for the students when the earthquakes forced schools to be shut down.
Maybe it felt like their lives were ruined by the disaster, not just in the present but possibly for a much longer time ahead from not being able to study for an extended period of time.
And maybe it felt like hell while they played catch-up, constantly fearing not having enough time to be prepared for the test.
But their parents and teachers and the communities they live in worked overtime to make sure they could take the test this weekend with full confidence. And with their supports, students arrived at test sites with renewed hope and determination to keep their futures bright.
Maybe the earthquakes shook up their lives in more than one way.
But maybe it taught them to stand tall even when hit hard.
Maybe it is a lesson no one would want to learn, but a lesson that would make anyone who has had to learn it remain strong in adversity to keep their futures bright.
I would like to introduce you to one last project that has been launched, called the “Future Talks Project.” It is run by young minds aged fifteen to thirty who wish to get involved in the recovery plans of their hometown. They are supported by the local government and experts to put their plans in action.
In their inaugural meeting held this weekend, five specific plans have been brought up. One of them is designed to bring light back to the town which becomes surrounded by total darkness after nightfall because street lights and houses that produce light have been destroyed. I find it to be a symbolic plan showing their strong will to keep their futures bright, and I wish them all the best in its successful implementation – it will be a precious learning opportunity not everyone can experience!
It has been a learning opportunity for me as well, trying to find in what ways I can continue supporting my people. I know that what I do here does not have much direct impact on them, but I would like to think that your views and likes for my posts giving updates on them send positive vibes to them. Thank you so much for keeping them in your thoughts and lighting up their hearts with your kindness… you keep their futures bright!