This episode is part of the National Committee’s Coronavirus Impact Series.
Lin is a local resident and filmmaker in Wuhan, China, who began offering free rides to healthcare workers for their commute, as well as delivering medicine to households with sick patients after all public transportation services were suspended in the city. Lin has been filming and publishing video blogs (VLOGs) on social media, capturing his volunteer activities and the lives of residents inside the quarantined city.
NCUSCR interviewed Lin over WeChat to broadcast his story of human resilience and compassion during the COVID-19 pandemic. VLOG footage in the video has been generously provided by Lin.
Lin is a filmmaker and resident of Wuhan, China. His Weibo page, @蜘蛛猴面包, where his VLOGs and other videos are posted, currently has over five million followers.
Question: When you first started to volunteer and film in Wuhan, how was the situation different from what you had imagined or expected?
Lin: Like many others, I was staying at home, reading the news when the outbreak just began. So I thought the city was in a (bad) condition that I could not have imagined. When I stepped out of my house, I figured that the city was different from how the news had portrayed it. I didn’t see lots of disorder and panic. It appeared to be functioning normally though there were fewer cars and people on the streets. This was different from what I had expected.
[01.23 VLOG excerpt]
Lin: Wuhan decided to lock down the city, starting from today, suspending all public transportation service, shutting down airports, train stations, freeways and exits around the city. Without public transportation, the city is quiet. Few people on the street. 95% of them are wearing a mask with an exemption of a few elderlies. Banks, shopping malls and most stores are closed. A supermarket in a mall is still open. People are mostly gathering at the vegetable section. Only in this section have I seen the usual crowdedness of a supermarket. People quietly lining up in front of the weighing station.
Lin: “Has the price of the vegetables gone up?”
Person #1: “Not much difference from the usual price.”
Lin: “Do you feel that there is a food shortage here?”
Person #1: “Not really.” [Excerpt ends]
Lin: Later on when I started to help delivering medicine to patients or offering free rides to health care workers, I had close contact with people that are close to the virus, but I did not get the impression that they were panicking. Actually, they appeared to be calm and were staying rational, endeavoring to seek treatment and solutions. So this is also different from what I had expected.
[01.25 VLOG excerpt]
Passenger: I am heading to the People’s Hospital. Thank you so much.
Lin: Sure thing.
Passenger: You are not going back to your hometown for Chinese New Year?
Lin: I am a local here.
Lin: What’s the situation in hospitals right now?
Passenger: All of us have cancelled our annual leave and have been on call. I am on duty tonight.
Lin: Which department are you in?
Passenger: Department of Otolaryngology.
Lin: I heard there’s lots of patients right now, aren’t there?
Passenger: Government has assigned seven hospitals to treat patients with fever. But those hospitals have many patients already. They are having a very heavy workload.
Lin: Many hospitals are full. Long lines.
Passenger: Yes, more and more patients. [Excerpt ends]
Question: While volunteering you regularly interacted with people combatting the virus on the frontlines. What emotional and mental challenges have you experienced, and how have you dealt with these challenges?
Lin: When I first started to offer free rides to health care workers, that was the beginning of the lockdown (of Wuhan). A variety of news flooding the internet, many people, including me, were impacted by the news mentally and psychologically speaking. But after I began to volunteer and film, I was constantly communicating with health care workers (that I came across). I hoped to obtain accurate and first-hand information from them. During this process, when we were chatting in the car, the atmosphere was actually relatively relaxing. Probably due to the fact that people did not want to spread negative emotions during this difficult time. So at that time, the atmosphere was not that tense yet. But later on, when the amount of information continued to increase on the internet, including help-seeking messages, the atmosphere of the city (Wuhan) became tense. When I started to help deliver medicines, I witnessed unfortunate situations some families were going through. Some families even suffered from love ones passing away. I felt very depressed when witnessing these. I felt like there was not much that I could do for them. I could only do my best to help them, like giving them the masks that I had. During that period of time, I went through a huge mental health challenge. I was even doubting myself. I was questioning whether what I had been doing was actually meaningless and there was nothing I could do to help them.
[02.04 VLOG excerpt]
Passenger: Delivering these eight boxes of medicine might take a whole day.
Lin: Yeah, pretty much, the locations are too scattered.
Lin: Hi, do you know that someone on the internet donated medicine to you?
Person #2: Yes, I do.
Lin: Ok, I am now delivering them to you.
Lin: This is the first time I’ve crossed the river and gone to Han Kou since the lockdown.
Lin, arriving at the house to deliver medicine: Is one of your family members sick?
Person #2: Yes, hospitalized at Jin Yin-tan Hospital. Thank you.
Lin: No problem.
Lin: I am going to put down the medicine in the front basket of one of the shared bikes here. [Excerpt ends]
Lin: So at that point, I came home and stopped filming for a period of time. I stayed at home living the regular lifestyle that I used to have, like doing some cooking everyday and spending time with cat and my dog. I also tried not to read an excessive amount of news and gradually recovered from the negative mood in this way during that period of time.