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Stronger together than apart, Polish vlogger recounts stories of solidarity amid COVID-19

(Xinhua)    17:49, November 11, 2020

WARSAW, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- While people all over the world have to practice social distancing amid the COVID-19 crisis, many are pulling together virtually or even in real life to help each other overcome the profound impact and trauma of the pandemic. Stories of solidarity recounted by a Polish vlogger (video blogger) have exposed the bright side of the dark months of the battle against the virus.

"People and businesses are truly banding together to help each other economically in times of need," said 34-year-old vlogger Piotr Chodak, who had observed a new form of economic solidarity in Poland during the pandemic.

STORIES OF SOLIDARITY

COVID-19 has hit the country's businesses very hard, but many Poles have chosen to fight back, said Chodak, who is a marketing professional.

"Here in Warsaw, for example, there is a place where they sell traditional homemade rurki, or whipped cream in a tubular waffle," he said. "It had recently announced it was on the brink of bankruptcy. A day later, huge lines of people formed to help by buying something from them. Earlier, the same had happened to an old lady in the south of the country, who had been selling traditional goat cheese on a street corner for decades."

Similar stories were related by florists, who had to close their shops on very short notice when the government ordered the country's cemeteries locked due to COVID-19. On All Saints' Day -- the first day of November -- millions of Poles visit the graves of their deceased relatives. For florists, this day may make or break a whole year's business. To support the affected florists, Poles turned out in droves to buy armloads of chrysanthemums.

Meanwhile, the affected businesses also offer gestures of solidarity to the public.

Some restaurants, which are going through a rough patch themselves, are donating food to medical professionals on duty.

Chodak's employer, a major producer of doors, also sponsored the purchase of a ventilator by a local hospital. As a business, "we are doing quite well," he explained. "People are more at home than before the pandemic. This motivates them to make improvements to their homes, like installing new doors. We are therefore trying to add our help, so we can pull through the pandemic."

STRONGER TOGETHER THAN APART

This is a remarkable change compared to the start of the year, when the COVID-19 crisis was only just turning into a pandemic, observed Chodak, who runs the blog and YouTube channel Chiny to Lubie (China I Like), which offers information about China's culture and society.

When the pandemic hit Poland, some negative comments started to appear about the country he has been focusing on for seven years now.

"Some commenters saw it as a Chinese problem, and some were disseminating conspiracy theories," he said. "You basically have two camps in these discussions. There are those who know we are all in this together, that we must help each other. The second group is antagonistic and is a sucker for conspiracy theories," said Chodak.

"It's very hard to enter into discussions with the latter, as they tend to reject science and facts. The discourse quickly turns very emotional," he said.

"More and more people are suffering psychologically due to the forced isolation and the economic hardships. And, in the end, we need to fight against fake news," said Chodak.

But the tone has been gradually softening, with the most recent comments describing China's handling of the pandemic in a respectful manner, according to Chodak. "Many are now looking to China to see what they can take away from their approach."

The vlogger believes that much can be accomplished if the walls of distrust between people are brought down. "I have to be an optimist though," he said. "We will get through this. It is neither the first nor the last pandemic we will experience, and it will get better. The spring might be a tough period, but after that, things will be better."

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

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