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Indian volunteers in anti-virus work

By PEI PEI in Shenzhen, Guangdong and ZHENG YIRAN in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2020-03-30 09:06
Dushyant Kumar, an Indian cinematographer living in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Editor's note: In this new series, we share stories and experiences showing how expats are dealing with the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak.

Dushyant Kumar-an Indian cinematographer living in Shenzhen, Guangdong province-was given an opportunity to volunteer in battling the novel coronavirus epidemic and came to realize how much difference he can make in his community.

On his way to buy vegetables one day last month, Kumar saw people wearing clothes with "Shenzhen Volunteer" emblazoned with labels while conducting volunteer activities. Not long after, in his neighborhood, some added Kumar's WeChat account, informing him of epidemic prevention and control knowledge.

Kumar told them he was willing to join, and would do anything he could. A couple of days later, on Feb 17, he became a community volunteer, with his first task being spraying disinfectant in the residential community.

"When the epidemic broke out, everybody was saying 'Wuhan, Jiayou!' (Stay strong, Wuhan!), so I wanted to help. This is a great experience. By helping people and the community, I was given a sense of personal satisfaction," he said.

Born in India and raised in the United Kingdom, Kumar has been to many cities around the world. Shenzhen has been his home for 13 years.

"The residents' friendliness made me fall in love with the city. When I broke my leg, a taxi driver who just met me once helped me downstairs and took me to the hospital. It was 2 am," Kumar recalled.

"I thought it was charming when Kumar asked us if he, as a foreigner, could become a volunteer. He saw the community volunteers, and told me he couldn't just sit at home," said Ji Mei, a friend and colleague of Kumar.

At the beginning, Kumar's volunteer work involved simple physical tasks, such as spraying disinfectant around the community. Later on, Ji and Kumar came up with the idea of filming a public welfare documentary of how China fights the epidemic, as they both work in Shenzhen Bollywood International Media Co Ltd.

"Our original idea was to show what China had done, as well as offer basic epidemic prevention and control tips to Chinese. However, as the epidemic has evolved into a pandemic, we thought it necessary to produce the documentary in various languages," Ji said.

According to Ji, her team-including Kumar-is translating the video into 27 languages, including Italian, Hindi, French, Spanish, as well as Chinese dialects, so that people worldwide can benefit. The documentary is expected to be ready in early April.

During the epidemic, the Indian embassy in China contacted Kumar, asking if he wanted to go back. He said no. "If you eat the food from any country, you are responsible for the place. This is your own place."

Ji said: "What touched me most was that he, as a foreigner, could be so grateful for what the (Chinese) government had done, and tried his best to help the country overcome difficulties. I think the fight against the epidemic has brought us, both Chinese and foreigners, together. The virus doesn't classify by nation, neither should we. When there are difficulties, we should join efforts to get through them."

Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Program, said at a recent news conference that the WHO has stressed since the beginning of the outbreak that the virus knows no borders.

The world needs to avoid any indication of ethnic or other association with this virus, and what the world needs now is solidarity and working together, Ryan said.

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