Baptist Global Response

China asks BGR team to train local volunteers for earthquake response


YUNNAN, China –– Rescuers pulled a 5-year-old boy alive from the rubble yesterday in southwest China where an Aug. 3 earthquake killed 400 people and ruined 42,000 homes.

Many local volunteers are arriving at the scene to help with rescue efforts, but they are largely untrained. The government in Yunnan asked Baptist Global Response partners to train the new arrivals.

“A large number of volunteers are coming to assist , but many of them are unskilled,” said Pat Melancon, BGR’s managing director of disaster response. “The BGR team has set up a coordination site and is working with 10 other teams in the area. The skills of this BGR team are now being multiplied in the form of training the untrained. Yesterday, the team trained 150 people.”

The government asked the BGR team to do training because they are skilled in the Sphere approach to disaster relief. The Sphere Project is an internationally recognized set of principles and minimum standards for conducting life-saving operations in a humanitarian response.

The efforts in Yunnan are focused on water, food, waterproof plastic sheeting, and daily hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste, tooth brushes, and a few medicines, Melancon said. 

Several areas that are still inaccessible, and road conditions are complicating effective delivery of supplies. “The government has raised the emergency response to the highest level, which means the event effects are more severe in some areas than originally thought,” Melancon added.

BGR Executive Director Jeff Palmer is grateful God is using the skills of BGR-trained teams to multiply the rescue effort.

“Our hearts go out to the many families struggling to survive in the aftermath of this disaster, as well as those who have come to help them,” Palmer said. “God has given us the great privilege of sharing knowledge and skills that will make rescue efforts more effective and no doubt will save lives. In the process, quake survivors will have an opportunity to experience the life-changing love of God.”

Yunnan province is one of China's poorest areas and is prone to earthquakes. The 2008 quake in nearby Sichuan province killed almost 90,000 people. This earthquake was the strongest to hit the mountainous area in at least 14 years. BGR partners responded to two other earthquakes in the vicinity in September 2012 and April 2014.

More landslides are expected in Yunnan because previous earthquakes have loosened mountainsides and heavy rain was soaking the soil. Most houses in the area are made of mud bricks, which do not usually survive earthquakes.

You can help people in need during a crisis like this by donating to BGR’s Disaster Response Fund. Click here to donate or give $10 by texting BGR to 80888.

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