The following post is the seventh in a series of diaries written by independent filmmaker and feminist scholar Ai Xiaoming and feminist activist Guo Jing. Both are living in Wuhan at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the links to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth part of the series.
Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.
This installment was written between February 28-March 2, 2020. The original Chinese diaries are published on Matter News.
Domestic violence is emerging in the pandemic. The pandemic makes it more difficult for the victims to call for help and for us to help these victims.
I received some messages from the victims of domestic violence seeking help. Some of the victims are children who cannot go to schools due to the pandemic. These children feel helpless when they see the quarrels and violence between their parents every day. Despite the difficulties, these victims are still reaching out for help. We need to try our best to let the victims know that we are ready to help them.
In the afternoon, the fruits from group buying arrived. I bought 8 catties of sugar tangerines. It cost RMB 50 yuans (7 US dollars). All of us express our appreciation as the quality of the fruit is very good. Some people made fried chicken legs at home and sent photos to our group. The fried chicken legs were burnt outside but soft inside with black peppers sprinkled around. All of us were craving for it.
9 番茄5斤 换随机等价值水果
The list of food exchange items on an online group due to shortage of food supply:
- 3 catties of pork belly (plus RMB 30 yuan or US$ 4.2 dollars) for 3 catties of dried pork ribs
- 5 catties of lean pork for 3 catties of beef
- 2 catties of frozen backbones for 2 catties of leg bones (plus RMB 10 Yuan or US$ 1.4 dollars)
For those who received the toast today, do not forget to bake it tomorrow morning. Please do not waste any of it.
- Apples, pears, sugar tangerines, and orah mandarins. If not enough, do equivalent trade.
- 8 catties of tomatoes for 4 catties of oranges
- 1 box of bacon sausage (plus RMB 10 yuan or US$ 1.4 US) for 1 pack of dried ribs
Anyone has some yeasts?
- 1 box of milk (12 packs) for 40 packs of instant coffee
- 1 catties of fried dumplings for 1 Kg of steamed dumplings (plus RMB 4 yuan or US$ 0.57 dollars)
- 5 catties of tomatoes for randomly selected fruits (equivalent trade)
Today I would like to talk about those who have tried their best to make a noise.
Below is my conversation with a volunteer (V).
I: How are you affected by this pandemic?
V: It is lucky that I and the people around me are not infected. However, I think this pandemic has affected me a lot. The mandatory lockdown has atomized individual citizens. We don't even know how to reach out for help as the sense of powerless and despair is too overwhelming.
On the other hand, when I read the messages sent by those in despair, I am afraid that we might forget what has happened after the pandemic ends, just like what we have gone through before. Therefore, I want to find a way to make all of us remember. This is one of the reasons why I want to do this project. I have strong desire to do something.
I: Have your condition changed after you started this project?
V: Actually my condition does not change much. Whenever I take a record of those help messages, I always want to cry. And whenever I do these seemingly trivial work, I am afraid that I would treat these messages as a piece of information or data and become indifferent or fail to see their struggles behind their messages. I am afraid that I would numb my feeling and trivialized the work. . But thank goodness, I did not.
However, I found that action itself cannot change our situation. While action should not be a kind of self-salvation. It might not change anything, but we need to act.
This volunteer has returned to work. He works from home, and he spends one hour every day to collect these messages. There are not many volunteers joining this project, but they have collected around 130 cases. If you are interested, please feel free to join them. The project is called “The undocumented people”
It has been two weeks since residential districts have been locked down. However, we still have new confirmed cases. Yesterday we had 565 new confirmed cases in Wuhan. This makes us very worried. The problem is that we do not know how these new cases were infected. We have started to speculate and think maybe going out is the cause. In addition to the infected number, I hope our health administration can analyze how new cases were infected so that people will feel less panic.
Today, the director of estate management sent us an emergency notice. The notice said that starting today, the residents cannot buy drugs on their own. We need to ask the designated personnel or volunteer to purchase the medical items for us. The pharmacy will check related credentials before selling drugs to the designated buyers. If we ask them to buy drugs for common cold or fever, the designated person will take record of our IDs and hand it over to the pharmacy, the real name purchase record would then be sent to the government. No one can buy drugs from pharmacy without a credential or ID.
Today, I checked a group (which coordinates drug purchase). There are more than 100 people in the group, and there are people buying medical items every day. We have different needs. Some people buy face masks and (sanitizer) alcohol. Some people with chronic diseases have to buy drugs for hypertension, hemorrhoids, skin diseases, diabetes, and rhinitis. Some people buy vitamins, eye drops, or anti-inflammation medication.
Can the community staff do this amount of work? If they cannot buy our food on time, it is not life threatening. However, for those with chronic diseases, if they cannot get their medication on time, their lives are at stake. Sometimes I imagine us being placed in some kind of experiment, which tests how much humans can accept being controlled and how much we can bear.
I went to the yard to take a walk. The cleaning lady of our community talked to me, “I see you come downstairs every day. You cannot stand staying at home all the time, can you?” I smiled and said, “yes”. She said, “I cannot stand staying at home all the time, either.”
She is a cleaner, and her daughter is a nurse working in a hospital. She is not worried about it. She said, “to live or to die is already determined. There is nothing to worry about. Some people were infected but recovered. Some people were infected and died.”