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Finns start building school to help quake kids

AFTER the earthquake in Sichuan Province last year, individuals and corporations rushed to offer donations and emergency relief. From far across the globe and now living in China, members of the Finnish Community also wanted to contribute to a lasting future infrastructure.

The Finnish Community in China has now succeeded in raising enough funds to build a primary school in Guiyuan Village in Sichuan's Deyang City. The school shared a celebration with the Finnish Expo team yesterday at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Finnish Pavilion. And on May 5 there will be another ground breaking in Sichuan, this time for the school which is expected to be completed in September.

The school, the Fenfang Spring Bud School, will be built in Guiyuan Village, 30 kilometers northeast of Chengdu. The previous school was completely destroyed.

The new school will have a three-story building with seven classrooms and three multifunction rooms as well as playgrounds and other facilities. The school will accommodate 250 students from grades one to six.

The Fenfang school project is a Finnish-Chinese volunteer project that officially started last August. It will cost about 4.2 million yuan (US$614,997), most of which has been donated by about 30 companies, mainly Finnish businesses established in China, and Chinese, Danish, South Korean and German companies. Almost 100 individuals from Finland, China, Sweden, the United States, Netherlands, Norway and Germany also contributed.

The project is supported by the China Children's and Teenagers' Fund and the Sichuan government. CCTF is one of China's oldest charity organizations and has 20 years' experience in building schools in undeveloped areas of the country.

The construction will be managed by one of the major donors, Poyry, an international consulting and engineering company from Finland.

"The whole project has a zero administration budget and all of the donations will go to the construction of the school," says Oskar Helling, one of the organizers of the project.

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