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Thu, Jan 06, 2000 - Page 4 News List

Post-quake alliance plans project to assist victims

QUAKE RECOVERY A program which sends social groups directly to victims' areas is designed to help them recover emotionally as well as economically


As the Chinese New Year approaches, the National Alliance For Post-earthquake Reconstruction (NAFPR?thorn>盟) announced yesterday the launch of a financial assistance project to encourage social groups to help survivors of the 921 earthquake who are still living in disaster-stricken areas.

"While governmental construction plans are not clear, we hope victims in disaster areas can be strong by devoting themselves to rebuilding their homeland with social activists. If some depressed victims are reluctant to reach out, we'd like to send groups to their homes during Chinese New Year holidays to listen to them at home," said the alliance's deputy secretary general, Shieh Jyh-cherng (謝志誠).

Shieh said the alliance would spend at least NT$15 million to promote visits by social group members to single family households or community group activities. Shieh said that more funds would be made available next week, once the Cabinet-sponsored Disaster Reconstruction Foundation (震災-垂堸簹鷛|) agrees to finance the project.

NAFPR's mental health experts stressed yesterday that mental rehabilitation would be the most important issue for depressed victims at this moment.

"Based on the experience with victims of the Kobe quake in Japan, victims start to sense real life pressure and think about the meaning of life after struggling to settle issues such as seeking jobs, housing loans or compensation. In addition, the coming Chinese New Year would remind them of lost family and controlled emotion might burst," said professor Chang Chueh (張?) from the Mental Health Association in Taiwan (??華??z衛生協會).

Chang said that several domestic violence cases which have emerged months after the deadly tremor can be attributed to improper emotional control.

"In fact, victims' depression can be dealt with by voicing the fear bearing deeply in their minds. Reaching out for help is important not only for victims but also for members of rescue teams," Chang said. However, the Temporary Statute for Post-disaster Reconstruction, which will be announced (災後-垂媦?瘙屭?/CHINESE>) next week, does not include clear details regarding mental rehabilitation.

"The construction work should not be carried out substantially only. Many groups with no professional psychiatric treatment skills delivered their sympathy (|P情?? to disaster areas instead of their empathy (|P2z??. That is not helpful to victims at all," Chang said, adding that previously counseling could not help victims with their specific needs.

"For people living in tents or pre-fab houses with bad living conditions, cultural rituals to calm them down or familiar entertainment such as traditional Taiwanese opera (歌仔戲), might be better than serious classical music performance," Chang said.

Previously, the government had sent classical orchestra ensembles to quake-striken areas to soothe survivors.

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