What it’s like to volunteer on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic

May 11, 2020

At the height of China’s coronavirus outbreak, Wuhan had 1.5 million registered volunteers, according to official statistics. What challenges did they face? And what motivated them to head straight into the disaster zone?

During the worst of China’s coronavirus outbreak in February and March, there were an estimated 1.5 million registered volunteers in Wuhan, according to official statistics. They came from all over the country—as far as northern China—to aid relief efforts.

Last month, we caught up with three volunteers as they prepared to leave Wuhan. The number of cases was dwindling, and intercity trains were resuming service. They were ready to go home.

Not all volunteers were medical workers. Some helped by delivering food and shuttling health care workers.
Not all volunteers were medical workers. Some helped by delivering food and shuttling health care workers. / Photo: Yan Chen

There was a flurry of emotions. It was clear from the interviews that the city had grown on them and the experience had changed them. One of the volunteers, a college student, left home without telling her parents and teared up as she video-called them.

Gan Yuzhuo, a 19-year-old student from Xi’an, went to Wuhan without telling her parents.
Gan Yuzhuo, a 19-year-old student from Xi’an, went to Wuhan without telling her parents. / Photo: Yan Chen

Watch the video above to hear their stories.

CoronavirusWhat’s It Like

Credit

Producer: Weiyu Qian

Videographer: Yan Chen

Narration: Gavin Huang

Editor and Mastering: Joel Roche