[Originally published on Foolsmountain] The stories out of Qinghai tell thousands of tragedies but also many small acts of heroism. Since the story is developing, with people still being saved, and since I am not on the ground: I will refrain from writing or commenting on the disaster. However, I will try to translate small stories here and there in the coming weeks to give people more of a flavor to what is going on on the ground.
The following is a short story filed by a reporter from Wuhan regarding his experience traveling to Qinghai to cover the earthquake. The story itself may not be a big deal, but it does detail one of the many spontaneous acts of kindred kindness that people across China are showing for the victims of the disaster.
Last night at 6:30, this reporter took a flight from Beijing to Xining (capital of Qinghai) to cover the recent earthquake. On the flight, not only did I meet Chinese Humanitarian Chen Guang Biao but also witnessed a most remarkable act of kindness by people sharing the same flight. By the time we arrived, people of the flight have collected some 56400 yuan and 1000 yen to donate to the victims of the earthquake disaster.
This unbelievable sequence of events started when a flight attendant announced: “As many of our passengers know, in the aftermath of the recent 7.1 magnitude earthquake, many people are in desperate need. One of our passengers on-board, Humanitarian Chen Guang Biao, has just donated 40000 yuan in cash. If people feel sympathetic to the plight of the victims of earthquake and have the means to do so, we urge people to donate – big or small – during the flight. We will collect the money and have Chen bring the money to the people who need it.” Within moments, I saw people starting to donate. A hundred here, a thousand there, people sprang to action.
Chen is the Chairman of a Materials Recycling company in Huangpu, Jiangsu. Chen is known for his many humanitarian deeds. In the aftermath of Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan, for example, he lead a team of his employees to the disaster site, delivering many heavy equipments to the affected sites. Chen donated in total over 10 million yuan during that relief effort. Chen’s efforts garnered attention throughout the country and earned him many recognitions and awards.
Upon finding that Chen was on the flight, I immediately sought out to interview Chen. I learned that Chen decided to go to Qinghai to help as soon as he learned of the tragic incident. On this trip, he has brought with him over 20 million yuan. The money included 50 million from Chairman Li of Yong Long Company from E Er Duo Si prefecture of Inner Mongolia and 10 million from Chairman Ding of Bo You Conglomerate in Beijing. Even as we spoke, I could see the people on my flight collecting and turning over what would amount to 56400 yuan and 1000 yen to Chen to deliver to the victims of the earthquake disaster.
Helping to Build 46 schools in Yushu
Chen told me that after learning of the disaster, he felt he had to come on-site to help. It turned out that Chen and Yushu has had a special history. Chen has already been made an honorary citizen of Yushu some time ago. He felt he had no choice but to come.
In July 2005, after watching an episode on TV covering the desperately poor conditions of schools in Yushu, Chen went to Yushu to figure out how he could help. He was so moved by the conditions and the people that he has been donating money to help build local schools ever since. Over the last few years, Chen has been responsible for the building of some 46 schools, provisions of over thirty thousand sets of school uniforms, some eight thousand backpacks, and over ten thousand computers. Chen has donated some 21 million yuan over the course of these years.
Welcomed by Parade of Military Vehicles at the Airport
We were greeted with a parade of commotions when we arrived at the airport in Xining. We saw some 20 army trucks deployed to help to put up tents. Soldiers were scurrying around to welcome rescue and recovery delegations from across the nation, including (when we arrived) one from Guangzhou. We ran into a driver in front of the airport who had been busy bustling the many rescuers around and about. Greeting us, he told us how people here really appreciate the help coming from all across the country.
Rushing to Yushu overnight in an off-road vehicle
We did not have a peaceful night after arriving at Xining. Chen had assembled locally some 21 heavy equipments of various sorts (e.g. hoists, bulldozers), 16 electric generators, 4 off-road vehicles. Together with some 33 people’s army soldiers from Huangpu, they set out for Yushu. Chen said, “the earthquake occurred only recently; there are still people buried underneath rubble. We have some experience helping in the Sichuan rescue efforts. There is no time to waste.”
I was able persuade Chen to allow me tag along with his flotilla of people and equipments. On the trip, I heard Chen say, after people are done using these equipments for the rescue and recovery efforts, these equipments will remain with the people of the communities affected for rebuilding of their communities.
Here is a note for readers: if you have any relatives living in Yushu and have not been able to contact them, you may contact me 13971676622 to relay news of circumstances on the ground to you. But please keep your messages short, since electricity will be a precious commodity, I need to make sure I use my communication equipments in the most efficient manner possible.
After Chen learned more about me – that I am a reporter from Wuhan who has been sent over to Yushu to cover the earthquake – Chen wanted me to relay back to the people of Wuhan: “Wuhan is an area blessed with good resources, and boasts of many locally grown entrepreneurs. Please let them know that help is needed. I hope everyone can pitch in to help!”
Chen told me, “the Wenchuan earthquake a couple of years ago, the ongoing drought in the western part of the nation, and now the Qinghai earthquake, these are testing times for us. We ordinary citizens and business people must step forward to help to the most of our abilities.” Chen cogently observed, “in times like these, any small amount of help will be greatly appreciated – many times over – by the people who receive them. We therefore must do our utmost to remain sympathetic to and to help the victims of these most unfortunate natural tragedies.”