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Liu's story

Woman looking at two glasses of water© InfoLiu Xiaorong from Xuanglang village, did not know how she could live on after losing her husband in China’s 2008 earthquake, which killed more than 69,000 people.

However more than two years on, Liu is one of thousands of quake survivors forging ahead with her life and making a success of a new venture after receiving livelihoods training from the Red Cross.

Despite her devastation after the quake, Liu still had a son and knowing she needed to support him gave her the motivation to get a job. In order to pay for his university tuition in Xian, she started doing sewing jobs and finally borrowed some money from friends and relatives to buy a small van and work as a taxi driver.

Livelihoods training

But driving an unregistered taxi was only a stop-gap measure. At the end of March 2010, Liu borrowed some money to start a restaurant, capitalising on her village's relocation to a tourist spot.

"Without the Red Cross training I would not have been able to run a restaurant," Liu says. "But now I’m even able to help other people in my village by employing four staff.

“I learned so much in the classes and afterwards could regularly ask the instructors questions about the business. The most important things I learned were management skills and how to calculate costs so as to work out how much profit I am likely to make.”

Surviving after the quake

Liu was one of the 4.5 million people whose home was destroyed in the earthquake. With her house flattened, she also lost her family’s small business based on renting rooms out to tourists.

"It took three days to find my husband’s body," she said. "After I buried him, I felt that there was no longer meaning in my life. My husband worked hard all of his life and spent months building our house, but the earthquake came right after it was finished. For months afterwards, I neither wanted nor had the ability to do anything."

Despite the sorrow of her loss, Liu is now determined to make a success of her new business. Although in the first month she made no profit, things are now picking up, particularly since she learned how to lower costs. When she has made enough money she plans to expand and make improvements, for example, she would like to offer an air conditioned room and a shaded area on the veranda for summer days.

Read about how we help communities prepare for disasters