May 15

Sichuan: A volunteer’s diary

Written by Buxi on Thursday, May 15th, 2008 at 4:36 pm
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This post also comes from Tianya, and is dated the evening of May 15th.

I haven’t closed my eyes for two days. I’m a student from Wuxi’s Professional Health Institute (Wuxi is located in Jiangsu province, in eastern China). After we learned of the earthquake in Sichuan, 8 of us voluntarily organized ourselves into a group, and had one of our parents drive us to Sichuan. The expressway’s still blocked, but along the way we saw a couple military trucks, and we caught a ride. We arrived at the earthquake zone, and we’ve been helping rescue the wounded since.

I don’t know if I should even make this post, but I’m still going to do it. I don’t mind if others accuse me of making something up, but I just want to tell what I see to everyone. I gave too much blood today, 600CC, and I fainted. So, my classmates are forcing me to rest, and this gives me the chance to log on using my laptop.

My deepest impressions are of that child! I have type O blood (universal donor). My blood flowed into his body… but… it couldn’t save his life. I grief, but his mother is filled with even more grief. It’s a single-parent family; after losing her baby, how will her mom go on?

I saw our premier yesterday around noon. He looks like he’s aged much. He was standing on a pile of rubble that used to be a school, moving a few rocks. He wasn’t acting or looking for publicity. His face was filled of tears. I saw him, and I couldn’t help but cry. But what made me angry was… why were the young assistants around him not helping? Why??

I’m one of the first male nurses graduating from Wuxi Health Institute; I’m not afraid of blood, I just want to save as many as I can.

I really am not used to those Sichuan provincial leaders. We’re chewing on bread rolls, and our beloved PLA Army, Armed Police warriors… they’re chewing only on dried instant noodles. But those leaders are eating two warm dishes and rice. At lunch I saw the premier while he was resting, and he was only eating a roll and salted vegetables. I cried at that moment.

Even as a boy, I shouldn’t be crying. As a 20 year old young man, I still can’t control my tears.

The parking lot is the most tragic of places, none of us want to be there. Because we see those injured mothers, staring at their children’s already cold bodies. We grief, and hate ourselves for being so helpless. But we really can’t help, we can’t life those rocks. All that we can do is bring those mothers and fathers a warm blanket on this frigid night.

In one day, we used up the big bag of bandages and pain-killers that we had brought. But the flow of the injured hasn’t stopped. The rescue work at the school is painfully slow, a lot of equipment can’t be brought in. The Armed Police warriors are using their shoulders to lift everything, and using wooden logs to pry things free. Many have been injured, but they’re still fighting. What touched me most in particular was one soldier… his calf was sliced open by a metal pole, leaving a 10-cm cut. I helped him sew the wound closed, and was going to use bandages to wrap it up. But he refused. He only said: “I’ll wrap it with paper, save your bandages for someone who needs it more.” Then, he got back onto the pile of rubble.

Many construction experts have been coming by. There’ve also been more Sichuan provincial government officials. Although everyone’s keeping busy, many of their actions really leave me speech-less… all of our warriors have been drinking boiled well-water with salt, but the officials are all enjoying packaged drinks!

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11 Responses to “Sichuan: A volunteer’s diary”

  1. Peterpaul Says:

    Your account is vivid and has done a great job of describing the conditions there “on the ground” in Sichuan.

    I applaud your bravery. You state you are a young man…I would suggest you change the adjective to real man. If there were more like you in this world it would be a better world…

  2. Jessica Says:

    wow.. you have seen so much.

    We are asking people like you who are in the situation for help in getting a first person idea of what is going on. We would love to have your story as a part of our participatory news site. You can contribute at the site http://www.nowpublic.com

    You can also add your footage/photos and discussion here [http://www.nowpublic.com/world/china-says-earthquake-toll-could-rise-above-50-000]. Feel free to email me if you have any questions at jlam@nowpublic.com

    Thank you for your help,

    Jessica Lam
    The NowPublic editorial team

  3. Buxi Says:

    Jessica and Peter,

    I just wanted to quickly explain that I’m not the original author, the actual volunteer. I only translated the story from Tianya.

    I will however repost your kind comments onto Tianya.

  4. Buxi Says:

    This video is of a PLA soldier, one of the first ones to have made it into Wenchuan city on a forced-march within the first day… he describes the hard-ships he saw, people dying, running out of medicine, and bursts into tears. Without warning, he falls unconscious in front of the media.


    Apparently, he hasn’t slept for the past 3 days and 3 nights.

  5. snow Says:

    an editorial from Evening News published in China

    The girl half stuck in concrete debris taking to the photographer/reportor

    Here is an unforgettable scene told by our reporters at the earthquake frontline. A girl’s lower body was stuck in concrete debris for two days waiting for rescue.

    When she noticed that a reporter was trying to take a picture of her, she spoke slowly, “brother, please make me look pretty.” We all fall silent with tears in our eyes. We don’t know if she’d be rescued and how long she’s going to live. Perhaps this was already her last words. How should we interpret one’s wish to be pretty when life and death hangs at a blink?

    To be pretty was her aspiration for life which we all share at this moment and we all sincerely hope that she’d survive this ordeal and live her life to the fullest. A western philosopher once said that a rose with a fleeting life span is still better than the lifeless but everlasting mountain. Perhaps this is why we stress the priority to save life in the face of this devastating disaster. By saving life we save all beautiful wishes for life as well. Now more people get to know that it is the wish to have a better and pretty life that has inspired generations of Chinese people to keep struggling since the old times.

    Yesterday at Dojingyan Number 2 hospital, a doctor and a nurse told the reporter that they all had their sons still buried under the debris; greatly struck by grief they nonetheless insisted on doing their jobs to rescue more lives. To save every boy and girl stuck in debris so that they can realize their pretty dreams have been the very motivation for the PLA soldiers who marched day and night to the earthquake epicenter under extremely dangerous conditions, for the firefighters and policemen who dug out lives from debris with their hands, and for millions of people nationwide flowed to blood donation centers to give part of their lives.

    Never give up on saving each and every life which has a beautiful dream attached to it. The greatest comfort we can give to our compatriots who fell in the deadly earthquake is to save more lives and to let every life live to its fullest.

  6. Allen Yu Says:

    I can’t read Chinese that well … Thanks for the English translation …

  7. Helen Says:

    hi, i was touched by your blog. i am going to be in china during the summer. i’ve been trying to contact organizations to sign up with a volunteer group, but i haven’t gotten any concrete responses. i was wondering if it’s possible to simply volunteer by simply going to the sichuan, which from your story seems possible?

  8. Ron Says:

    I have been looking into different organizations, hoping to to find a group I can volunteer with and physically help in Sichuan or in places around the disaster area…can anyone give any resources I can look into?

    I understand of course that right now they need people like licensed medical personnels, psychologists and machinery operators…but as a college student in China, I really want to help.

  9. Buxi Says:


    Have you tried contacting the Red Cross…?

    You can also try contacting the Taiwan-based organization Tzu Chi, which has always welcomed volunteers. I expect they will also have English-speakers if that’s important to you:


    Best of luck, and thank you for doing your part.


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