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Wuhan to get medical supplies from US sister city

By WANG LINYAN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-02-24 09:52
Paul Babinsak, a member of Brother's Brother Foundation, a charity, loads a consignment of face masks onto a truck in Pittsburgh, in the US state of Pennsylvania, earlier this month. It was the first shipment of masks that the BBF sent to Wuhan, Hubei province. Photo provided to CHINA DAILY

Amid global efforts to help China fight the novel coronavirus outbreak, a large shipment of medical supplies-450,000 surgical masks and 1,350 coverall protective suits-is flying its way to China from the United States.

The relief materials are from Pittsburgh, in the US state of Pennsylvania, for its sister city Wuhan, the city at the center of the epidemic outbreak.

Brother's Brother Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based charity that focuses on medical and educational needs around the world, sent them to support Chinese medics treating COVID-19 patients in Wuhan and Huanggang in Hubei province, Chengdu in Sichuan province and Beijing.

"Having a sister city is like having any other close friendship. You share each other's triumphs and tragedies," said Sarah Boal, assistant vice-president for BBF's Disaster Response & Strategic Initiatives.

"Right now, our sister city of Wuhan is hurting and so, as Pittsburghers, we feel compelled to do what we can."

Pittsburgh and Wuhan have had many social, cultural, and business exchanges since they became sister cities in 1982.

This is the second shipment from the charity, with support from e-commerce giant Alibaba, Air China and a coalition of Pittsburgh-based organizations.

The first shipment of 180,000 surgical masks, which took off on Feb 12, arrived in Wuhan on Feb 18.It was distributed among 15 designated hospitals in Wuhan and Hubei province.

Sarah said the masks were donated by a manufacturer who had excess inventory.

The BBF works around the globe to match resources like these masks where they are most needed.

"It was fortunate timing that a large shipment of these masks came in just as they were needed," she said. "We will continue to ship them as long as we have resources available and the need continues."

It has taken several days for the team to ensure they have all of the preparations in place for a shipment like this, according to Sarah.

She also expressed gratitude to partners who were "incredibly important" to their efforts.

They include Alibaba, Air China, the Chinese Consulate General in New York and the Chinese Association for Science and Technology, Pittsburgh.

Support from the Office of the Mayor, The Office of the County Executive, Sister Cities and the Idea Foundry has enabled this rapid deployment, according to the BBF news release.

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto wrote in his letter to Wuhan mayor on Jan 27 that as Wuhan is very important and valued sister city of Pittsburgh, "I want you to know that my team and I-as well as the entire city of Pittsburgh-have you and Wuhan in our thoughts and prayers."

The Chinese Association for Science and Technology, Pittsburgh Chapter, a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization registered in Pennsylvania in 1994, volunteers to help the BBF ship its relief supplies to hospitals in Wuhan and Hubei province because of the uncertainty in the availability of shipping carriers and many airlines had grounded all or some of their planes.

Susan Chang, president of CAST-P, said the first shipment would not have been possible without the help of so many determined volunteers along the way from Pittsburgh to Shanghai and Wuhan.

Every one of them is an action group and every action works together for one goal: get the BBF donations to hospitals in Wuhan and Hubei a little faster, Chang said.

"It was like riding a roller coaster of emotions in the past two weeks, around the clock. And I am not the only one feeling this way," she said.

"BBF's wish has now come true. We will do better and faster for the second shipment."

The warm hearts of people in Pittsburgh has also been felt as the CAST-P, the Pittsburgh Hubei Fellow Association and the Pittsburgh Chinese Culture Center raised $58,888 on the gofundme website in three weeks, exceeding their target of $50,000.

The donations will be used to purchase medical supplies and shipped to hospitals in Wuhan. The total amount exceeded $75,300 with donations from other channels.

Xiaoming Li, organizer of the fund-raising campaign, said they selected hospitals based on need, reliability and efficiency of contacts, and donors' recommendations. "Most people know what's the right thing to do. United, we stand. Well organized, we can accomplish," Li said.

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