The Chinese New Year, which fell on Jan. 25 this year, marked the first day for Wu You, a trainee teacher in a Wuhan middle school, to offer free delivery service for citizens in the city amidst the COVID-19 epidemic.
From this day on, he started bustling through Wuhan, sending medicines and materials to those in dire need.
Wu’s first “client” was a father of a three-year-old boy. The man isolated himself in the kitchen and the bathroom because he was suspected of contracting the novel coronavirus. When asking for help from Wu, he almost ran out of food and medicines.
From Jan. 25 to the end of Wuhan’s lockdown, Wu, an enthusiast of video-blogging and rap music, cycled over 1,000 kilometers and helped more than 700 people get through the darkest time.
His volunteering service started from a favor he did for one of his students’ parents who asked him to send some masks and drugs, which later inspired him to post a message on micro-blogging platform Weibo and instant messenger WeChat in which he said he would offer free delivery of masks and medicines for the left-behind elderly.
At first, Wu was just trying to offer some help passingly, as most of his approximately 300 followers on Weibo were friends and relatives. However, he unexpectedly received more than 1,000 pieces of help information, most of which were sent by strangers.
Trying to fulfill his promise, Wu asked his student Huang Xinyuan to join him. The two bought medicines and then distributed them. They selected some help seekers who lived nearby and were in urgent need, and started delivering at around 2:00 pm on the first day of the Chinese New Year. It was already 10:00 pm when they arrived home.
They didn’t feel scared until they finally hit the road, realizing they were at a very high risk because the recipients might be COVID-19 patients.
“But we left it all behind and carried on,” Wu said. “We are not that great, but we just can’t turn them down.”
As there were more and more help seekers, Wu decided to carry on his service till the epidemic is relieved. He reassigned tasks with Huang, with him sending supplies to the east part of the city and Huang to the west. Wu would always spot the patients for the medicines, and firstly send the medicines to children and the elderly.
He received an emergency call at around 10:00 pm on the third day of his service, when he was about to sleep. The caller said he was quarantined at her aunt’s in Wuhan, and his uncle had a breathing problem, adding that he was worried very much since the drugs had run out.
Wu went out immediately and took with him a box of oranges, because the vitamin C needed by the caller was out of stock. The residential complex of the caller, which was newly built and located 10 kilometers away, was not shown in the navigation application, so Wu could only search for it according to description.
However, when he finally arrived at the residential complex, he was not able to locate the specific building. Therefore, the only way to find the receiver was to shout his name, even though it was raining. He was finally answered by the help-seeker’s uncle who thanked him in a trembling voice.
Three days later, Wu was informed that the senior man had been hospitalized and his conditions turned great. The caller extended a million thanks to Wu, saying his timely delivery service had won valuable time for the treatment.
“From that moment on, I started to feel that I was probably saving lives,” Wu recalled.
He was joined by more people since mid-February and gradually formulated a team. Some verify information while some deliver medicines. Besides, his delivery coverage has also been extended to the whole city.
Wu established a chat group on WeChat containing 250 people, including psychological consultants, doctors and patients, to share experiences of fighting the pandemic. There was even a software engineer for map apps planning routes for Wu and his team every day.
In the meantime, the number of followers of Wu on Weibo exceeded 1 million, and he started receiving donations from across the country. A volunteer team from Sichuan sent critical drugs and 4 tons of vegetables, while writers from Beijing mailed protective suits and alcohol. He also received masks from Chinese students overseas.
Wuhan started to resume production and work at the end of March, gradually reopening its public transport and subway system, which led to a decline in the number of help seekers. During the past two months, Wu was thanked numerous times and received “like” from millions of internet users.
Wu believes the tiredness and doubts he received are worthy, and the only regret is that he still missed many help seekers. “To help more and care for more is needed not only during the epidemic, but also in the post-crisis period,” he wrote on Weibo.