According to the U.S. Geological Survey, an earthquake rating of 5 is considered fairly moderate, whereas 6 to 7 is "strong," 7 to 8 is "major" and 8 to 10 is "great." On May 12, China's Sichuan region experienced an almost-"great" earthquake, with a devastating 7.9 rating. Millions of homes were destroyed, and thousands of Sichuan residents lost loved ones.
But the members of the MGH Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA) hope that another number – not the earthquake's magnitude but the sum of Sichuan emergency relief donations – will help to alleviate the effects of the tragedy. The MGH CSSA – comprising medical professionals who work, research and study at the MGH – joined with more than 12 other CSSAs and Chinese organizations in the Harvard community to raise money for survivors and the rebuilding of the region.
"All of us were shaken, and our tears could not be stopped," says Winnie Shum, PhD, of the MGH Program in Membrane Biology and treasurer of the donation funds. "We knew that we had to do something for these victims."
The Sichuan Earthquake Relief's fundraising goals were announced at a May 18 candlelight vigil at Harvard Memorial Church. On May 30, a Sichuan Earthquake Rescue Efforts presentation was held in the O'Keeffe Auditorium with guest presenters Susan Briggs, MD, director of the MGH International Trauma and Disaster Unit, and Emily Chan, MD, professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong. June 15 marked the last day of the fundraiser, and $78,407 in donations were presented to the Hong Kong Red Cross for emergency relief.
"We are really thankful for the warm embrace that many people have given to our initial call," says Hong Chen Cheung, MD, of the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center's Adult Medicine Division and the representative of the MGH CSSA board members.