“I feel confident in the house,” Mrs. Xing said. “I think the house will be safe now.”Mrs. Xing

“Talking about the earthquake makes me very sad, my eyes fill with tears,” said Xing Dayan, a resident of Minle village in Sichuan, China. Mrs. Xing and her family have been living in a makeshift tent for the past eight months.

On May 12, 2008, Mrs. Xing was taking an afternoon nap when a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck. Waking to a loud noise and feeling shaking, Mrs. Xing initially thought a rainstorm was raging. She raced out of the house and ran into the field near her house.

Mrs. Xing felt a rush of relief when her husband appeared. She said, “I ran to him like a three-year-old seeing her mother come home!”

Their daughter was also safe. Her daughter’s school had collapsed, but thankfully her class had been on a field trip.

However, their lives had been completely uprooted. Mrs. Xing had lost her livelihood. “Before the earthquake, we had a shop that sold agricultural chemicals,” Mrs. Xing said, “but it was destroyed in the earthquake. We lost everything.”

To rebuild, Mrs. Xing and her family wanted to construct a new house, but “we knew nothing about housing construction,” she says. Then Build Change construction trainer Chen Ting visited them at their tent, to talk about how to build safe houses.

She had already started building her new confined masonry house. One wall was going up out of plumb, and another wall had very large openings. We talked her through what she needed to do—tear down the tilting wall and add a reinforced concrete lintel beam over the window and door, tied into the tie columns—and she convinced her contractor to make these changes. We didn’t provide any money or materials, just information. She told us that after her neighbors saw her lintel beam, they all wanted them too.

Mrs. Xing attended Build Change’s training and said that she greatly benefited from learning how a house should be configured, and how to do quality control inspections of the construction. “I was very happy to have Build Change’s help. Without them, no one in the village would have known how to build a house.”

“I feel confident in the house,” Mrs. Xing said. “I think the house will be safe now.”