(Photo: REUTERS/Stringer )
Rescuers nap during a break in Lingguan town of Baoxing county, Sichuan province, April 21, 2013.
Another major earthquake hit China this past weekend and, despite online calls for unofficial volunteers who want to help to stay away, people in the affected areas find the unofficial volunteers helpful.
The 6.6 magnitude earthquake that struck China’s southwestern province of Sichuan on Saturday is the second to hit the area in five years after the May 2008 earthquake, which killed 70,000.
Luo Daiqiang is a 31-year-old volunteer from Chengdu who responded to the earthquake by promptly getting on his motorcycle and riding 160 kilometers (99 miles) in four hours to Lushan, the most heavily affected area.
At first, he wasn’t sure how he was going to help. “But I wanted to help, so I came,” Luo said. Once there, Luo saw that the local roads were narrow, and rescue vehicles were jammed up. He realized how he could help.
On Sunday, he volunteered as a driver, taking two volunteers from Lushan to Baoxing. On Monday, he took a reporter from Lushan to Baoxing.
“The reporter insisted on paying me, in the end, I let him pay for the gas,” Luo said before returning to Lushan. “There was another volunteer waiting for me to shuttle him to Baoxing,” he said, referring to a county that was hit by the recent earthquake. The only highway leading to the town has been destroyed by aftershocks and landslides, making it difficult to reach.
“I’m not the only volunteer motorcyclist going to Baoxing. Quite a few others are waiting at designated spots, prepared to shuttle people whenever they need.”
Meanwhile, an IBTimes China reporter this week visited Baoxing and found that, besides transporting people, volunteers make a contribution in other ways.
Most of the town’s quake victims have gathered in the stadium of a local middle school, where the rescue control center is also located. Local residents have built a temporary hut in the stadium and are supplying free food – rice, pork and vegetable stew – to the people who were put out by the earthquake.
“Rescue personnel and reporters are served first, please be understanding” a sign in front of the hut says.
“We have voluntarily pooled together our rice and vegetables,” local resident Sun Xuemei said, adding that many local farmers have brought the vegetables they grow themselves. “Out here in the countryside, we usually stock a lot of food. Since so many volunteers and reporters have come out to help us, we want to offer what we can to feed them.”
Even though food is offered, most volunteers and reporters would not claim their free lunch, insisting instead on paying.
In Muping, a village in Baoxing, most of the shops are closed, but on Monday a noodle shop was still open. At 9 a.m. two volunteers stopped by to eat. The owner of the shop, a middle aged woman, seeing that they were wearing volunteer tags, told them the noodles were free for them.
“We are here to help, not to eat for free,” the volunteers protested, but the owner refused.
“We won’t eat if you won’t let us pay,” the volunteers said as they took up their bags and prepared to leave.
The owner finally relented, and the volunteers paid first, then sat down to eat.
In fact, many reporters and volunteers would rather buy instant ramen at convenient stores rather than eat for free at local homes. On the other hand, even though supplies have been cut off, none of the shops that are still open hiked up their prices.
This article is copyrighted by International Business Times, the business news leader