A time of service
Wu Yinping, a 70-year-old Shanghai native, became popular online after a recording of her phone conversation with her niece went viral.
Wu, who had been serving as a volunteer in her housing community of Beixiaoqu in Pudong New Area since early March, was tested positive for COVID-19 and transferred to a makeshift hospital in Nanhui town in early April. Nonetheless, Wu remained hopeful. In her call with her niece, she shared her experience of the medical treatment and encouraged her and others to look on the bright side of life.
"I didn't tell my son, who was busy in highway maintenance those days, and other family members (that I was infected), as they have also been experiencing a tough time in the lockdown. I wouldn't want them to worry about me," says Wu, who has lived in her neighborhood for 31 years.
Her son finally found out when Wu was about to be discharged from the hospital. He saw her wearing a mask on a video call, and thought why she would do that at home.
In the call to her niece, Wu recalls when she and 24 other residents were being transferred to the makeshift hospital, Niu Lingyue, the Party secretary of the community committee, apologized to them. Some infected residents had been doing voluntary work in the community.
"He blamed himself for not protecting the volunteers well and said he should take full responsibility for the infection," Wu says. "However, it was not true. We were all not prepared for the omicron variant. We didn't blame him, and we are grateful for his dedication to the neighborhood that houses more than 5,000 residents. The neighborhood committee has been under pressure during the time of crisis, organizing nucleic acid testings and responding to requests from residents every day.
"Resident volunteers have to be there with the committee members. I also encouraged him to pull together to face tasks ahead."
Wu's volunteer work continued at the makeshift hospital. When her own condition was getting better, she joined to offer nonmedical services to other patients.
"Medical workers refused my volunteer application at first, considering my age. But I insisted on lending a helping hand to the best of my ability for those in need," Wu says.
Wu helped clean the floor and bring food and water for patients in their 80s.
"I initially panicked not knowing what was ahead of me and felt extremely anxious when arriving at the makeshift hospital and had been worried about the living conditions there," Wu says.
But she says she was soon relieved by the orderly operation there.
"The meals always included things that are high in protein. Patients supported one another like a family, which made us move beyond our stress rapidly," she says. "Medical workers were friendly and taught us how to boost our immunity through regular exposure to sunlight."
Wu talked about the situation with her niece as well.
"There were patients who complained about the unsatisfying details in hospitals compared with home, but we should also appreciate those who had to take care of a huge number of patients," Wu says.
The optimism of Wu received applause from netizens and inspired those who had such experiences.
"Wu's story embodies the innate goodness of human nature. When the city is in a difficult time, she has stepped up to devote herself despite the risk," a netizen comments on Sina Weibo.
Another netizen says Wu's story will inspire people, especially the younger generations, to cherish the peace and safety in life while being brave to tackle obstacles that come around.
Wu was discharged from the makeshift hospital on April 22 and resumed her role as a volunteer in the community on May 1 after completing seven days of self-health monitoring at home.
"Neighbors are happy to see her, greeting her warmly when she returned," says Niu, the community Party chief.
According to Niu, Wu, a Party member, has been serving the community as a member of the residential committee for years after her retirement.