1500 Masks with Love from BangladeshIssue date：2020-02-24
Some people say that we are a generation with bad luck as when we were born, there was the outbreak of SARS, then when we are at the critical moment of high school, there is the outbreak of COVID-19.
When I read the news of the delayed reopening of the school and various restrictions imposed, I could do nothing but staying at home, which became the best way to serve the country as people tried to add a sense of humor in face of the difficult period. But my family seems to be busy all the time. My mum is busy with housework every day. I am immersed in IB, and my dad decided to leverage his extensive network to do some volunteer work in support of the battle against the epidemic.
Given the shortage of medical supplies such as masks, my dad tried to source some medical masks to donate to hospitals in Hefei and Nanjing. Soon he found that it was almost impossible to source supplies within China, he had to turn to overseas sources. As the situation in Wuhan became more and more worrisome, I read the news that medical staff from major hospitals in Hefei were asked to join the rank of those working in Wuhan to give them support. Even the hospital where my cousin works in Hefei ran out of masks, so she has to go to work without such basic protection. Under this circumstance, as a UWC student who has the network of many overseas students, I immediately offered my help to my dad.
When I put my dad's requirements on UWC WeChat group, my schoolmates responded pretty quickly. Two of my schoolmates from Bangladesh, Taqiul and Intisar, have been keeping in touch with me all the time. After several days of hard work, they finally helped my dad get hold of the medical masks which meet the requirements of China. Although when talking about the process, it is not that complicated, as teenagers who have little experience in large volume procurement, we did went through a lot of troubles and even got stuck in minor issues. But even so, we still hoped to persist in our efforts and do it well, because all three of us know that a mask, a pair of goggles, and even a small piece of alcohol pad, put together, can build a great wall against viruses.
At the beginning, I didn't expect that I could form a team searching for supply with my unsophisticated communication skills. My dad even said afterwards that he had no idea that I could accomplis the task, he just let me try my best. "You guys are all kids. You may not take this too seriously ." After we made it, my dad was really impressed.
Having received such unexpected and enthusiastic response from my peers, I came to realize the true value of UWC education. People around the world may disagree on various issues, but for UWC students, we share a common belief that we can offer care and love to people when they suffer from natural disasters or epidemic or when they are in need of help. No matter which country we come from, even with different cultural backgrounds, we can unite to tide over the hardship.
In the whole process, the biggest headache is to find the masks which meet the hospitals requirements and specifications. There were originally three types of masks we were looking at which were available. Later on, we were informed by the hospital that two of them did not meet their requirements for preventing virus, therefore only one type could work. The entire team felt discouraged: we worked so hard to find those masks in the market but they couldn’t be used. So my two Bangladeshi schoolmates, Taqiul and Intisar, kept going to the shops every day to check the availability of the mask we could buy. Hence I must share the latest information about the specific requirements from the hospital with them and communicate promptly. There were several times when I was too busy with my studies and didn't keep them updated. As a result, I missed some important information and lost some opportunities to buy more supplies. The constant change of product models has made the entire team impatient, but we did not want to show our frustration. After all, thinking of those doctors and soldiers who are risking their lives to save those infected in Hubei and other provinces, and those who are desperately waiting for treatment, the little bit tedious work we are doing is nothing to complain about. In the end, we did succeed in finding the right masks in Bangladesh, though a relatively less developed manufacturing country. We purchased the masks immediately. At first, I planned to buy protective gear and goggles, but in the end no required models could be found, I had to give up. Now looking back, if we hadn’t booked the masks as soon as we found them, maybe all our previous efforts would be in vain, as this kind of mask quickly ran out of stock in less than a day after we bought them!
In the end, we ordered 1,500 KN95 masks with the help of Taqiul and Intisar who also found local logistics companies to package and ship the goods. These masks have already been delivered to China and are waiting for customs clearance at the moment.
My two Bangladeshi schoolmates are also delighted with what we have achieved. Taqiul said: "I always have the passion to help other people. Given the privilege to be able to offer my help during this time is something I will forever cherish. People from different nations can help each other regardless of their differences. This is one of the key UWC values we can put into practice in our daily life. " To be honest, I didn't feel that I had anything to show off, I am a Chinese, and this is what I should do for my country. But for the two Bangladeshi students, I must thank you again from the bottom of my heart. You are delivering charcoal to people’s doorsteps when it’s snowing as the Chinese proverb goes. Chinese people always say that “Little help brings much return." Chinese people will always keep your kindness in mind.
At the moment, humankind is facing a huge challenge, but I have the confidence, united with a heart of love, we can be stronger. It is the mission of UWC and the mission for every UWCer to unite for peace and a sustainble future.
"Run to the rescue with love, peace will follow."-- River Phoenix
(Quote from the speech by Joaquin Phoenix, best actor of the 92nd Academy Awards)