(All photos taken from Weibo, unless otherwise stated.)
As China continues its tough battle against the Covid-19 epidemic, reports of newly confirmed cases and rising death tolls dominate the headlines. In a country trapped in turmoil, ordinary Chinese people are doing their best to survive. It is perhaps in such trying times that humanity bands together in its fight against the common enemy of disease. The following acts of kindness went viral on Weibo:
A traditional Chinese medicine practitioner from Jianghan University Affiliated Hospital in Wuhan touched China with his many selfless acts of kindness. Apart from brewing medicine on a daily basis, he voluntarily ferried medical staff to and from their working units and helped to transport almost 500 protective gear and over 4000 N95 masks to the hospital.
Volunteer groups at residential areas like the one at Shengshi Xudong area in Wuhan city's Wuchang district have also teamed up to collect, sort and deliver parcels to residents. In this way, residents need not gather downstairs to collect their parcels, minimising unnecessary contact with one another.
Others have volunteered to dash out and stock up on supplies for residents. In the photo below taken on the afternoon of 25 February, a man in charge of queuing up for and buying medicine for people staying in Wuhan's Huiminyuan residential compound ran out of boxes to carry the medicine. Not to be deterred from his errand, he improvised by attaching small packets of medicine to his body.
Electrical companies such as the Xinzhou power supply company (in Wuhan) have set up temporary tents at makeshift hospitals. They are on shift duty 24 hours a day to tackle emergency situations and to carry out maintenance works. They have extended their services and made it their responsibility to ensure that the electrical systems of these makeshift hospitals are in working order.
On 26 February, six chefs from Henan travelled from Zhengzhou to Wuhan, bringing along ingredients to prepare signature dishes from Henan. The chefs whipped up a hearty meal for medical staff battling on the front line, warming their stomachs, and their hearts at the same time.
On 24 February, various volunteer groups from the Maitian Project (麦田计划) team in Ehuang, Hubei donated personal protective equipment, masks, and rubber gloves to Huarong Hospital (华容中心医院) in Ezhou.
Their personal stories
Chinese people are also sharing their personal stories on social media including these which were published on the social media platforms of Shanghai-based media outlet The Paper (澎湃新闻).
谷雨实验室 (Guyu shiyanshi) documented life for her family of three under self-quarantine in Beijing for 14 days. She said it was as if they were living the ideal laid-back countryside life at their apartment in Beijing. Neighbours were kind and would hang fruits and leave dishes at her door.
She said, “ When it was snowing, our daughter could watch the snow and walk in it. The path that our footsteps created in the snow became a passageway that could be used for ice-skating. Although it was only two to three metres long, it was a rare outdoor activity nonetheless. It kept us occupied for 30 minutes a day.” Even though the outbreak wrapped them in fear, she also realised that happiness was simply about “having enough to eat, wear, and live, and being together with our loved ones".
十点人物志 (Shidian renwuzhi) posted a compilation of five short interviews with selfless volunteers. An interviewee particularly mentioned the importance of trust amid the virus outbreak. He said, “People donate to us out of trust. Hospitals send their medical supply requests to us out of trust. The people we find to help us deliver the donated supplies are also out of trust. Beneath that trust, is responsibility. You have given me your trust, and so I become responsible for you. I hand the money to my suppliers and the logistic companies, and they, in turn, become responsible for me.”
All is not a rosy picture: A volunteer who became a patient
Tao Ye, under the account 全民故事计划 (Quanmin gushi jihua), posted this story on 28 February as told to him by An Yuchen, a volunteer who became a Covid-19 patient himself. An has a custom jewellery workshop that mainly provides custom jewellery design and services to various brands:
On the first day of the Lunar New Year, I received a text message from my girlfriend who is a nurse, informing me that she had applied to work on the front line in Wuhan, and was leaving on the same day. I could not sit still in my home in Hangzhou. I got on the phone, ordered masks and protective suits, and decided to personally head to Wuhan to deliver them to the hospitals the following day. I had initially only planned to stay a day in Wuhan after delivering the supplies. But the sight that I witnessed was too much for me to bear.
When I was delivering the supplies to Wuhan No. 6 Hospital, I witnessed a middle-aged man who was kneeling and grabbing at the doctor's leg. He cried out, "Save me!" The man was an infected patient, and with tears in his eyes, said to the doctor, "I'm the sole breadwinner of my family. I can't fall ill. Who's going to take care of the kids?"
Protective suits cost over 200 RMB a piece, and wearing a suit would mean that one suit is lost. I really can't bear to wear one myself.
Having been in the army, I had never cried no matter how tough training was. Yet, tears rolled down my eyes when I witnessed this sight.
I couldn't leave.
After I checked into a bed and breakfast, I got into contact with a volunteer group that helped send medical supplies to hospitals, and ferry medical staff to and fro work. I started delivering medical supplies to hospitals in Hankou, Hanyang and Wuchang, wearing a mask and a single-use raincoat as protective gear. Protective suits cost over 200 RMB a piece, and wearing a suit would mean one suit less for others. I really couldn't bear to wear one myself.
Eateries were closed in Wuhan and I mainly survived on instant noodles. One night, it was way past 7pm and I hadn't eaten. A customer service staff knocked on my door, offering me a bowl of steaming hot tangyuan (rice balls). He left the room after making a deep bow.
I was eventually discharged on 18 February, and immediately went to donate blood as I read online that the antibodies generated in the blood of recovered patients could be used to fight against the virus in infected patients.
On the fateful day of 6 February, I developed symptoms and became a confirmed case of Covid-19 myself. I was admitted into Huoshenshan Hospital the following day.
Doctors and nurses worked round the clock to ensure that we were well taken care of. After a week of treatment, my symptoms gradually went away and while recovering, I began making phone calls and ordering medical supplies again from my hospital bed. I was eventually discharged on 18 February, and immediately went to donate blood as I read online that the antibodies generated in the blood of recovered patients could be used to fight against the virus in infected patients. Hopefully, my blood can help someone in need.
On 19 February, I decided to take a break and headed back to Hangzhou. I did the math, and realised that I had spent 568,000 RMB during this trip to Wuhan. That's close to my earnings in an entire year or two! I need to get back to work. I have no money left.
Signs point to the Chinese people rallying together to get the country back up and running again as quickly as possible. Following director-general of the Ministry of Commerce's Department of Trade in Services and Commercial Services Xian Guoyi’s announcement on the introduction of more targeted measures and the relaxing of controls on transport and logistics, Wuhan’s food delivery services accumulated 130,000 orders on 25 February alone.
On 26 February, transportation trains carrying 56 tonnes worth of daily necessities like fruits and vegetables, and other medical supplies and health supplements were delivered to Ezhou from Jianyang.
Angry residents ask if it's all a facade?
In other news, China Central Television’s daily news programme Xinwen Lianbo (新闻联播) aired a report of Chinese Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan's visit to a residential area in Wuhan on 5 March. Angry residents shouted out of their windows, "It is all fake!" as she walked by, venting their frustrations that the peaceful and stable atmosphere that local officials were trying to create was just a facade. Local officials had “pretended” to let volunteers deliver vegetables and meat to the residents, but it was all to conceal their dereliction of duty.
The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
This photo story was put together by Grace Chong, ThinkChina.