The month of April 2022 lockdown in shanghai, brought into perspective a lot of things for different people. Be it disappointment, frustrations, contempt, self-reliance, perseverance, kindness, selflessness, etc. There are aspects of humanity that we have lost touch with as a society and I saw it coming back during this lockdown.
4 days into a 5 five days lockdown, I was informed by one of the volunteers in my neighbourhood, that the lockdown was going to be extended. I barely had enough food and water to last me past the initial 5 days and that sent me into a full panic mode. And it’s not like I didn’t try to get some food before the lockdown, I did, but they just never arrived. Every time I attempted to buy vegetables online, they were always sold out.
All I had to eat was junk food. I told myself I will use this opportunity to fast but sometimes I found myself shaking just because I was hungry. I had rice porridge in the afternoons and yoghurt and potato chips for dinner. I eventually run out of those too.
9 days into the lockdown another foreign friend in my community called me and told me she had no drinking water and food in her apartment also. I decided to contact one of the volunteers and told him of our situation and he quickly mobilized a group to help us out.
The volunteers quickly arranged for drinking water for us and notified us when there was a group purchasing some food items.
Because we could not read Chinese characters it took my friend and me a while to get our orders on the list.
A day after placing the order we were informed by the volunteer in charge of food purchasing that our money will be refunded back to us because there weren’t enough supplies and its first come first serve. My friend and I didn’t stand a chance because our orders were at the bottom of the list. I was very sad and heartbroken because I was looking forward to some actual meal in almost 2weeks.
On the day of the next group purchasing one of the volunteers Ms. Lily, took it upon herself to order some vegetables and rice for us once the group purchasing was open which took 3 days to arrive by the way. And after that some meat and more vegetables and if I may add none of these purchases were cheap by the way.
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Almost 3 weeks into lockdown, we finally got our first and only donation of food items of some vegetables, meat, eggs, and noodles from the government.
As a woman there were some necessities, I needed but didn’t know how I was going to get them or even if it was appropriate to ask the volunteers if they could help.
Just when I was gathering up the courage to ask, Ms. Lilly informed me that they had made arrangements for a group purchasing specifically just for women.
While I was panicking about having no food to eat during this lockdown I was not alone. There were the old and the sick in my community living alone with no food and no one to help them.
It was brought to the attention of my community that there was an Oldman in my community who was staying alone, sick, and had no food.
The moment residents of my community were informed about the man’s situation in a group chat, people started donating their fruits and any food they could spare. They placed these items outside their doors and volunteers went around to pick them up and took them to the old man.
For everyone to have something to eat, neighbours started to exchange food and other items from tobacco, coffee, vegetables, noodles, eggs, etc. by placing them outside their door and writing destination building and room numbers on them.
Without many options and limited food resources, neighbours began to share their recipes with their limited choices of food items.
Neighbours began looking out for each other and so did my neighbour and me. She couldn’t read English and I couldn’t read Chinese but we made our conversations work and we sometimes laughed at the situation because I sometimes have to take pictures of what I meant to show her for her to understand what I was talking about.
I’m grateful to have found myself in a community that shows up for their neighbours, there is nothing more beautiful than a group of people standing together in the face of a common enemy with nothing but the determination to fight together no matter what. Our togetherness and love for one another with a common fight held us together as a community and as one huge family.
Team Leader: Arthur Zhang
Team: Arthur Zhang, Benjamin Chan, Lyra Gu, Gideon Kinnah, Yue Dong, Lyon.
Script: Genevieve Abankwa