MasksForWuhan: The Calm in the Eye of the Storm

Article by Anita F., Concordia Applied Journalism

As of the past few weeks, the novel coronavirus pneumonia, now named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, has pushed all Concordia families into uncharted territory. With a total case count exceeded that of the 2003 SARS outbreak in less than a month and a disheartening rate of increase, an underlying sense of fear has infiltrated our community. Since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be a global health emergency on January 30th, international powers have come together to disband the network of this virus and alleviate some of its casualties. Not incidentally, some of our own Concordia students jumped on this opportunity to make a positive impact and use their strengths to help others as well.

Calvin O., founding member of MasksForWuhan    

Calvin O., a junior at Concordia International School Shanghai, is an outgoing student who enjoys reading, working out, and has a heart to serve. Recently, Calvin embarked on a personal project. Partnered with some other Concordia students, he created MasksForWuhan, a campaign to raise money to supply medical supplies for a hospital in Hubei, the epicenter for the virus. The purpose of this personal project, which has been confirmed by Calvin, is to create “a world where sanitation is a fundamental human right and alleviate the coronavirus epidemic one step at a time”.

Since the Chinese New Year break was extended and cyber-school was initiated as a caution for the virus, many students are stuck at home. Not everyone, however, is spending that time going the extra mile like Calvin. When asked what inspired him to pursue this project, he reminisces about a service trip to Guangzhou he went on last spring with Concordia faculty members, Mr. and Mrs. Mizel, and the Shining Star Organization. The purpose of the trip was to teach left-behind children on the outskirts of Guangzhou their self-worth. “On the trip, Mrs. Mizel developed the motto: ‘You are important because you can make an impact,’” remembers Calvin. Thinking back on this innovatory event, he reflects, “the virus affected not just me but also many friends and families around me… I was invigorated by a strong urge to start something and make an impact”. Notwithstanding his vigor and good intentions, he was aware of his impending struggles and toil.

    Partners at Xinhua Medical Instruments Co. Ltd.

The first prerequisites to the official announcement of this campaign were finding a cooperative hospital and a medical supplier. Calvin admits that these steps were especially dispiriting. “There are so many limitations and logistical issues with buying and shipping,” Calvin further admits, “especially because all suppliers are out of stock. Even if they do have supplies, they won’t be able to ship them”. It was important to Calvin and his team that they were working closely with their supplier, and that their donations were going somewhere reputable and reliable. Being very transparent with their donors, they have publicly shared that they will be purchasing equipment from Xinhua Medical Instruments Co. Ltd. for Jingzhou No.1 People’s Hospital in Jingzhou, Hubei Province.

In the early stages of the campaign’s development, the MasksForWuhan team realized that it was necessary to find international partners. From this realization, they developed their slogan: “Unity is Strength, Together We Can Foster Change”, and partnered with Sustainable Health Organization (Los Angeles) and Fighting for Wuhan (Dulwich College Shanghai), two similar student-led campaigns. Winnie S., a representative from Dulwich College Shanghai’s Fighting for Wuhan, explains that “partnering with MasksForWuhan was necessary because, at the time, our team was struggling to find a way of purchasing supplies into Wuhan. Afterward, through sharing ideas and contacts between the two groups, we were able to find a new supplier together and purchase items with our funding.” Calvin is very appreciative of his partners and is eager to admit that they have made the process a lot easier and enjoyable.

MasksForWuhan team (Left to right: Calvin O., Kelly Wu., Jerry L., Anita F., Kevin L., Iffany Z., Ivan L.)

Unity truly is strength, and together, these students did foster change. Calvin and the MasksForWuhan team were able to raise over 40,000 RMB within the first few hours of its reveal, exceeding their goal of 20,000, which they predicted would take two weeks, according to team-member, Iffany Z. A lot of support and donations arrived directly from within the Concordia community, but overall, the support was overwhelming, especially for Calvin. “It was surprising to see how amazing and supportive the community can be,” remembers Calvin. Only two weeks ago, MasksForWuhan was just an ambitious idea. Now, the 50,000+ RMB has been spent on specifically requested medical equipment and are going to be in use in the foreseeable future.

When asked what Calvin’s personal thoughts on not just the coronavirus are, but also how people are responding to it on the global stage, Calvin illuminated the positive. “I don’t want to undermine the severity of the situation in Wuhan,” he explains, “but people should acknowledge the love that is being spread during this pandemic”. Calvin empathizes with those that are being affected by the coronavirus in any way and encourages our community to remain positive and take advantage of the opportunity to foster change. He concludes, “this virus undoubtedly brought a lot of troubles, but it also brought a strong sense of solidarity and devotion into the hearts of many people”. MasksForWuhan is a true testament to that.

For more information about MasksForWuhan:

Website: www.masksforwuhan.weebly.com

Email: masksforwuhan@gmail.com

Instagram: @masksforwuhan

MasksForWuhan’s publicly released credentials