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The Coronavirus Diaries: We Have Answered the Call

The Coronavirus Diaries: We Have Answered the Call

Wednesday September 15 2021

Martin Lachmann tells how the Amity Foundation in China responded to simultaneous emergencies over the summer.

After the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020, Nanjing remained peaceful with no new cases identified for almost a year until July 2021.

All of a sudden, on July 20, nine new cases of Delta variant detected at Nanjing Lukou airport broke the peace sharply. Different from Covid-19, the new variant was more contagious. In just a few days, over a hundred people tested positive, the majority of whom live near or work at the airport.

To contain the virus in the smallest scale possible, the city exercised lockdowns in severely affected areas surrounding the airport. The airport closed. Travel out of Nanjing with vehicles and trains was restricted. Some institutions and factories organised rotating shifts to avoid possible infections of staff through public transport and to control spreading of the virus among staff. At Amity headquarters, apart from the executive staffers who came to office daily, the rest of the Amity team worked from home and came to office in turn.

During the outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020, Amity was heavily involved in the control and containment of the virus by raising resources both at home and abroad to support medical staff, community health workers and elderly care takers. What can we do this time, apart from keeping ourselves safe, for the epidemic that started from our city and was spreading to some other parts of the country, especially our neighboring city of Yangzhou?

Just as we were concerned and making plans to respond to the Nanjing outbreak, more breaking news came out: exactly on the same day, torrential rain hit Henan Province taking away the lives of 25 people in Zhengzhou, and over one million people have been evacuated. As a faith-based development organisation which has not missed one single natural disaster response since the founding, how could we stay away from answering the call of victims in Henan? However, with the travel restrictions, how could we go to the site?

We quickly organised ourselves into two major teams: one responded to the Nanjing and Yangzhou Corona relief, the other to the Henan flood relief. Apart from purchasing needed materials for Nanjing and Yangzhou, Amity established an online platform with joint efforts from Nanjing Voluntary Service Association, two online medical service websites and voluntary driver teams organised by Nanjing Communications Radio.

In the lockdown areas, the major needs were to get urgently needed necessities, especially medicine. The platform, on receiving the requests, would then, through radio, call for voluntary drivers to take care of the purchase and delivery. Through the platform, pregnant ladies got their pills, patients with tumor got their special medicine, children received donated fruits they have longed for since the lockdown, while community workers got printer and paper for activities with families in the communities.

For the relief in Henan, after appealing  to the public, we soon received much financial support. We organised staff from Amity branch offices in Shanghai and Kunshan to support the on-the-ground relief work. Mostly young girls who participated in the relief work for the first time, did an excellent job on the spot, making need assessments, sending purchase requests back to the headquarters and delivering the needed materials to the affected villages.

With the united efforts of all, the epidemic in Nanjing was brought under control by mid-August when Nanjing welcomed the lifting of the lockdown in areas surrounding the airport. Now that work and life have returned to the state similar to before the second surge, we are happy and relieved. Not only that we ourselves and our families are safe, but that we have made our own little contribution to the containment. Probably and hopefully, there will never be a need for responding to two emergency situations at the same time while having concerns on our own health situation again.

We have answered the call with solidarity and unity.

Martin Lachmann is a communication officer with the Amity Foundation, based at the organisation's Hong Kong office.

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The Coronavirus Diaries: reflections from Church of Scotland partners around the world

Zambia: Safety for All
South Africa: Resilience and Hope
Nigeria: Life is Gradually Coming Back
Nepal: Our Deadliest Enemy
Malawi: A Crisis That Will Not Go Away
Kenya: Covid is Real
Belgium: Some Silver Linings
South Africa: Will We Keep Listening?
Zimbabwe: Untold Sufferings
A Deep and Inconsolable Loss: Tribute to Phumzile Mabizela
Malawi: This Was Very Real
Sri Lanka: Daily Numbers are Shocking
Jerusalem: Virtual Prisoners
Bangladesh: We Will Survive by the Grace of God
Nepal: Exhausting and Often Heartbreaking
Malawi: God Has Been Faithful to Us
France: Thankful For What I Have
India: Love Your Neighbours
A Nigerian in Scotland: Alone But Not Lonely
Taiwan: When We Work Together, We Achieve the Best Results
Hungary: We Mourn Each Loss
Zambia: Preparing for the Vaccine, and a Third Wave
World Communion of Reformed Churches: The 'Covid and Beyond' Church
Pakistan: Passing the Light
Lebanon: The Lord Will Not Forsake Us
South Korea: 'It is Time For Christians to Hear the Marginalised'
Cuba: Keep Moving On
Canada: Cracks Have Been Exposed
Kenya: Leave No Child Behind
USA: Homes of Prayer
Mozambique: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
A Spaniard in Scotland: The Power of Movement
South Sudan: Being Positive
A Nigerian in Scotland: God is in Charge
Trinidad and Tobago: New Frontiers
Czech Republic: A Challenge for Everybody
Switzerland: An Outpouring of Solidarity and Creativity
The West Bank: A Landscape of Broken Dreams
Nepal: So Many Premature Goodbyes
Malawi: We Must Hold Each Other Close
Nigeria: A Fresh Spiritual Connectedness
Egypt: 'This Is A Time To Witness God'
Guyana: The Strength of our Connectedness
South Korea: A Harsh Reality
Zimbabwe: Convenience or a Wake-up Call?
Sri Lanka: Service is the Highest Form of Worship
USA: Testing Positive
Portugal: The Mission of the Church Has Not Changed
World Council of Churches: A New Dawn is Upon us
Hungary: Physically Distant but Close in Spirit
A German in Scotland: Something New Has Already Begun
Myanmar: We Will Overcome this Hardship
Ghana: This Too Shall Pass
Brazil: The Least We Can Do
Kenya: Caring for One Another in Christ
An Indian in Germany: A Time of Enrichment
Argentina: Time in Between
Malawi: 'My identity in Christ remains unchanged'
Jerusalem: Being Rather than Doing
Malawi: No Lockdown and an Election
Zambia: 'I will never leave you... or forsake you'
Czech Republic: The Covid Cover-up
Zambia: 'All Life is Sacred'
Israel/Palestine: 'The Air is Clear'
Nepal: 'Please Pray for Us'
Malawi: Tough Dilemmas
Italy: 'Together, We Will Get Through It'