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Women expat volunteers help to fight epidemic in Shanghai
By:Zhao Chunyuan  |  From:english.eastday.com  |  2022-03-27 18:01

In March 2022, the current situation of epidemic prevention and control in Shanghai is getting tougher. Luckily, among the army of volunteers working to maintain the dynamic zero-Covid policy, there is a group of expat women contributing what they can to guard the city from the frontlines.

Women volunteers:blooming flowers in the "cold spring" of epidemic

On the night of March 13, 2022, Junle residential complex in East Nanjing Road Sub-district, Huangpu District, was temporarily put under closed-loop management, with 17 volunteers quickly stationed. However, the manpower was obviously insufficient to serve more than 1,700 residents. So the volunteers decided to try and recruit further volunteers from among the residents. In just a few days, a total of more than 50 community residents had signed up to volunteer, and Ilona, a young girl from Russia, has proved among the most adept at the task.

Many residents were not prepared in advance for the lockdown and did not have many supplies at home. Therefore, the volunteers needed to deal with the countless deliveries ordered through online shopping. Solving the problem of the last 100 meters of delivery of goods therefore became an issue. With her experience working as a real estate agent, Ilona took the initiative to assist in sorting and dividing the packages into major categories according to the recipients’ addresses, so that it was easier for her partners to quickly deliver the parcels to the respective doors, a process which significantly improved the efficiency and accuracy of the volunteer team.


After putting on the personal protective equipment, Ilona quickly joined the "battle" with the Chinese volunteers

“I like Shanghai especially because of its openness and tolerance, which makes it very convenient for expats to integrate here," said Ilona."Although I can't speak Chinese, I want to give back to Shanghai for the help it has given me, and I want to be an example for others to learn from," she said when asked by the reporter from Eastday.com why she had volunteered for epidemic prevention and control.

The Spanish volunteer Eva Serrano had the same wish to give back.


  Eva Serrano (right) is volunteering to help with nucleic acid testing

On March 18, residents in the Jing'an Temple Sub-district area received a free nucleic acid test in batches of the residential communities they lived in. Among a group of volunteers in blue protective suits, a Spanish woman with blond hair stood out. She is Eva Serrano, president of Inditex (ZARA’s parent company) Greater China.

Ms. Serrano said that after learning about the needs for nucleic acid testing volunteers in residential areas, she not only signed up herself, but also brought eight colleagues of her company to serve the community together."The prevention and control of the epidemic is the responsibility of the entire society. Seeing that the medical staff are working very hard, I also really want to do my best to contribute as much as I can," Ms. Serrano said.

In fact, at the beginning of the epidemic in 2020, Inditex Group donated 1 million RMB to Central China's Hubei Province on January 25 for the purchase of medical supplies. After learning of the shortage of masks, 160,000 medical masks were purchased overseas and donated to the epidemic areas. On February 5, the group purchased another 2.7 million pieces of medical masks and protective clothing worth 1 million euros from around the world, and donated them to the front lines through the Tsinghua University Education Foundation.

A French entrepreneur's love for China: Shanghai is my second home


Clarisse Le Guernic,(middle) who joined the volunteer team to fight against the epidemic in Shanghai

On March 19, Ruijin Er Road Sub-district carried out nucleic acid testing at different times. A total of more than 1,300 people, including socially recruited volunteers, were on the front line to carry out the work."Although the volunteers will use loud speakers to call people to go downstairs and do the nucleic acid testing, for foreign residents who do not understand Chinese we have to knock on their doors to explain the situation and remind them to do the nucleic acid testing," French volunteer Clarisse Le Guernic said. She also assisted the elderly who did not know how to operate their phones to generate an appointment QR code via the city’ s Health Cloud app (Jiankangyun) before doing the nucleic acid testing.

In the process of fighting against the epidemic together, Clarisse also felt the warmth from other volunteers and residents."I also learned a lot of Shanghainese phrases from the residents, such as 'come and do the nucleic acid testing'," she said.

While Clarisse isn’t fluent in the Shanghai dialect, the reporter noticed that she spoke fluent Mandarin. This is largely because when Clarisse was a junior high school student in France, she attended Chinese class at her school.

In 2015, Clarisse came to Shanghai to study. She was deeply impressed by the warmth and friendliness of the Shanghainese."I love talking to senior Shanghainese because they have experienced a lot and know a lot of stories, and they are willing to share them," she said.

Today, as the founder and CEO of Arcade Experiences Shanghai, a company focused on Shanghai history related outdoor activities, what she wants to do most is to tell the history and culture of China and Shanghai to more people.

"In the future, I would like to participate in more community activities and meet more volunteers to better understand my community and help in any way I can. I also hope that with the concerted efforts of everyone, we can overcome the epidemic soon and the city can return to normal as soon as possible," she said at the end of the interview.

(The pictures are provided by the interviewees)