Reporter’s Diary: Amid epidemic, Wuhan volunteers bring warmth and empathy

World Today

Reporter's Diary: Amid epidemic, Wuhan volunteers bring warmth and empathy

Volunteers have been helping Wuhan through its long, hard-fought battle against COVID-19. They are ordinary people who have more than portrayed the city’s warmth and spirit.

People in Wuhan have stayed at home for over a month with limited chances to go out. It’s just hard to imagine how challenging that can be, not only for the sake of one’s livelihood, but also psychologically.

While general hospitals in Wuhan contended with COVID-19, mental health hospitals were also kept busy.

I visited a hotline office at Wuhan Mental Health Center, which had received over 100 calls per day since late January, 10 times more than their maximum capacity. Therefore, the center recruited 200 additional professionals – all volunteers.

“At this special time, our volunteers are very proactive in receiving calls. Some counselors even complain that they can’t work early as shifts are full. People are all very united, and I am deeply moved,” said Zhang Jiaxiu, a hotline counselor there.

Some out-of-town professionals also joined the counseling team via phone, like Qin Hai, a mental health expert from Shanghai.

“I’ve worked in Shanghai for 10 years. Our Shanghai counseling team initiated a mission to support the Wuhan hotline. I am happy to be part of this,” Qin said.

Volunteers were everywhere – online, on the phone, and of course, in the communities. Some helped deliver food and medicine, others helped check temperatures. Many residents told me they are touched by the volunteers’ efforts, not just the work they did, but also the warmth and care they’ve brought.

The grassroots efforts were strong, especially when it came to emergencies. I followed a motorcade that delivers protective gear to community hospitals. They had made more than 300 trips since the outbreak. The medical supplies were also donations from home and abroad, carrying love and care to the epicenter of the epidemic.

But when people are at work, they are exposing themselves to the potential risk of getting infected.

“If I do not support my city, I will feel guilty. I hope that I can help relieve public anxiety. I have to work as much as I can,” said Wan Bin, a volunteer driver.

The epidemic that started in Wuhan ignited the passion of volunteers around the country and spurred them to join the battle against the coronavirus. Rather than isolate people, the city’s shutdown enlivened a spirit of unity that helped them to make it through the difficult times.

(Zhang Youze and Meng Mingwei contributed to the story.)