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My battle with coronavirus: From "fraudster" to trusted volunteer

(Xinhua)    11:22, March 09, 2020

WUHAN, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Wu Jing (pseudonym), a 35-year-old, never imagined that he would ever spend so much time calling strangers, that is until he began working as a volunteer in the COVID-19 fight.

The man who works in Beijing followed his wife back to her hometown Huanggang, one of the hardest-hit cities in Hubei Province, on Jan. 21 for the Spring Festival, which fell on Jan. 25 this year.

Since then, they have been stranded there as the city also went into lockdown following Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and could not return to their posts in Beijing.

Wu did not want to lie idle at home. So he was recommended by his colleagues to volunteer with the Chinese Red Cross Foundation (CRCF), which provides a humanitarian fund for medics involved in the prevention and control of the epidemic.

Each medical worker infected with COVID-19 would receive a subsidy of 100,000 yuan (14,400 U.S. dollars), while the family of a deceased medical worker infected with virus would get 1 million yuan. The medical staff themselves, their relatives or colleagues can apply for the funds online.

Every morning, Wu would get a list of the medical staff who applied for funding. His job is to contact the applicants by phone to verify their private information, such as nucleic acid test results, ID numbers and bank card numbers, and assist them to submit materials to the fund management committee.

He thought it would be a piece of cake to make some phone calls. However, unexpectedly, he was mistaken for a fraudster by many people at the beginning.

Some applicants did not answer the phone at all, while others hung up before he could speak. When people reluctantly talked to him, they often had a series of questions for him to answer.

"Which organization are you from? What's your employee identification number?" they questioned.

Furthermore, some people even chose to notify the police.

On the afternoon of Feb. 5, Wu called a nurse.

"Are you a fraudster?" she answered, after he introduced himself.

Wu had to explain patiently and added her on the social media platform WeChat to facilitate the further gathering of application materials.

As a result, the nurse continued to ask him the same question on WeChat, "Are you really not a fraudster?"

"Actually, this is my first time to be a 'fraudster.' I could only send her the links to the CRCF official website, media reports and previous public information about the fund to identify myself as a volunteer," said the man, who found it both funny and annoying.

Late the next night, Wu received a call from the police. The police officer asked him some details about the fund and said they would check the information according to his explanation.

The police never contacted him again. Instead, the nurse he had called before got in touch with him and admitted that it was her who had phoned the police.

Still, Wu helped the nurse, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Jan. 25, submit the application materials. Later, both she and some of her colleagues received the funding.

As of Feb. 27, the fund had raised 391 million yuan (56.37 million U.S. dollars) and sponsored 1,111 frontline medical workers, according to the CRCF.

To help more medical workers trust him and get the aid they needed, Wu tried his best to show them more evidence of the fund's authenticity on WeChat. He also had more chances to interact with medics due to the volunteer work and found them both lovely and respectful.

Once, a doctor surnamed Xu asked Wu whether he could fill in the bank account number of his hospital on the application form, when the volunteer called him to verify the application information.

Wu thought he was going to be mistaken as a fraudster once again. However, the doctor said, "I just want to donate the money to my hospital and don't want anyone to know about it. If it is not allowed, I won't apply for the fund."

"At that moment, I felt a deep admiration for him," Wu said.

Recently, he saw a nurse share a video on her WeChat page. The video showed she was still lying on her bed in hospital, but the caption read, "Let's meet in Wuhan and enjoy cherry blossoms in the warm spring."

"I believe that day is not far away," Wu said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Bianji)

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