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.
In the second part of an exclusive interview with the National Committee, Lin describes how ordinary people organized to support medical workers and patients on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic (watch part one). 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: As a volunteer, what is the balance between the need to help others, the risk of your own exposure to the virus, and subsequently your family’s safety and wellbeing?
Lin: When you view the virus from a more scientific and rational perspective, you understand what precautions to take to stay safer, and this lowers your risk (of contracting the virus). I think many other (volunteers) around me share this thought. During this process, you know what measures to take to protect yourself. I thought that many of the volunteers (that I encountered) are in a similar situation as me. We live alone and can be responsible for ourselves. On the other hand, some volunteers live with their families or children, and from what I know, a portion of these volunteers temporarily move out of their homes and live alone to keep a distance from their family. For those that must go home, they usually take up tasks with the lowest risk that do not require going to high-risk areas or have direct contact with people that might have been infected. There is a careful division of labor with volunteer groups, so people living with their families are assigned to the safest tasks. Disinfection and wearing protective equipment are also vital steps that volunteer groups have been prioritizing and actually manage to do pretty well.
[01.29 VLOG. Day 7 of Wuhan Lockdown.]
Lin: How many volunteers would be coming today?
Volunteer #1: Twenty to thirty cars have arrived right now (and we are) expecting a couple dozen more to come.
Lin: How is work assigned?
Volunteer #1: We have a list with items that different hospitals need, then distribute (the work) among volunteers accordingly and deliver the items (to the hospitals).
Lin: Have hospitals been notified of this delivery?
Volunteer #1: Yes, contacted. Protective equipment for the volunteers is on the way. Before setting off to the hospitals, all volunteers need to put on the protective gear.
Lin: Why do you do this?
Volunteer #2: Because I have to, I live here.
Lin: How many years?
Volunteer #2: 7 years.
Lin: If not seeing volunteers in their protective gear, you would not have imagined that this is taking place in the midst of a crisis. (The crisis) brought these people together who used to be strangers.
Question: Over the past two months volunteering, what experiences have left the deepest impression on you and your volunteer group?
Lin: I heard stories from other volunteers, for example, when one of the teams was delivering medical supplies to a hospital, a representative, or maybe a doctor, showed extreme gratitude for their work. The person told the volunteers that they were a small hospital barely noticeable (to the government). Despite their size, during the outbreak of the virus this hospital was also accepting COVID-19 patients and was very short of medical supplies. However, they were not on the government’s list for receiving donations. So the staff at the hospital were incredibly moved when they saw the donation. They even burst into tears and bowed to the volunteers. They no longer felt like they were forgotten. The volunteers were very moved as well, as they felt that regardless of the size of the hospital, all health care workers are doing similarly high-risk work, so both the hospital staff and the volunteers were very grateful for each other’s work.
Question: What role do you think citizen journalism like the “Wuhan Diary” has played in this crisis, as opposed to the mainstream news media?
Lin: People learn about the most important health-related information and updates through the news. My film is designed to reflect the experience of the ordinary citizens in this city—people like me, what we have been going through, and what our experiences are. Many people told me that they resonate with my video blogs and see the warm, human-interest side of the quarantine experience through them. During this (difficult) period of time, mental health is extremely important. When people watch the videos, they see hope and gain some inner strength.
[01.26 VLOG. Day 4 of the Wuhan Lockdown.]
Lin: Since I started to post about Wuhan in the past two days, (the posts have) attracted a lot of attention from all around the world, not only people of Chinese descent. Though Wuhan is cut off from the outside world, the Internet is (borderless and) connected. People’s hearts are also connected.
Lin: There is really no car out here. Very few people. Is this Wanda (Mall)?