UMN Chinese alumni chapter launches campaign to support Wuhan

As of Friday, the chapter has received roughly 100,000 yuan, or more than $14,000, in donations.

Courtesy of Victor Zeng.

Courtesy of Victor Zeng.

Jiang Li

A group of over 30 University of Minnesota Chinese alumni launched a campaign late last month to support Wuhan, the origin of the coronavirus breakout in central China.

Alumni from the University Alumni Association Shenzhen Chapter is raising money to buy medical supplies for those in Wuhan, which is currently experiencing shortages due to the sudden spread of the disease.

The coronavirus, a family of viruses that include the common cold and SARS, broke out at the end of 2019 in Wuhan, a city in the Hubei province in central China. As of Sunday, it has resulted in over 14,400 confirmed cases in China. More than 300 people have died from the disease. 

The University Alumni Association Shenzhen Chapter is based in Southern China and includes more than 260 University alumni members from different walks of life. 

The chapter reaches out to local hospitals in Wuhan regularly to see which resources need replenishing. 

“Deeply from my heart, I have been feeling very sorry about them when I knew they [lack] medical devices,” said chapter Executive President Victor Zeng. “[We] want to do something to help them. No one is an island, and I wish my family, the people I love and all alumni friends will be healthy and safe after this anti-virus campaign.”

The fundraising initiative has been spread among alumni on social media. As of Friday, the chapter has received roughly 100,000 yuan, or more than $14,000, from over 1,300 University alumni and students. The amount of funding exceeded the organizer’s expectations. Charity Leader Miranda Lee created the idea of the fundraiser and played a leading role in the initiative, including procurement of the supplies, connecting with hospitals and logistics.

Many University students who are in Minnesota have donated to the fundraiser.

With the shortage of medical resources in China, the group has contacted over 100 suppliers and tried to find resources from the U.S., Australia, Japan and Germany.

Nine cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the United States.

University data science graduate student Rongrong Sun spent Chinese New Year, which started on Jan. 25, with her family in China and said her family and friends have been paying special attention to the epidemic.

“We have been following the news of coronavirus every day, and the daily conversations with family and friends are even filled with the outbreaks,” Sun said. “My family even canceled a trip to visit relatives to avoid the risk of being infected.”

Sophomore Lorraine Li from Wuhan said she is upset about how much information was hidden from the public and said she hopes things can get better in her hometown.

“Some of my friends started to [stay away from] the students who come from Wuhan or even those who have been to Wuhan,” Li said. “Everything is out of order. Everyone I love is in Wuhan. I really love my city, and Wuhan has always been a city of heroes. I hope things can get better soon.”

The chapter is planning to pay more attention to hospitals and healthcare centers in the Hubei province’s second and third-tier cities and set up a volunteer team of psychological services to provide free counseling for those who need it during this period.

“Considering that the fight against the virus is a medium and long-term campaign, we are going to turn this action to support Wuhan into a diversified and sustained action of love,” said Linda Wang, president of the University Alumni Association Shenzhen Chapter.

The fundraising is supported globally by University alumni associations like the Japan and Kazakhstan chapters. The Beijing Chapter and Guangzhou Chapter are also participating in the initiative.

“We are very grateful to [these chapters’ action] for joining in this loving action, which gives us more confidence and strength,” Wang said. “We hope that all of us can work together to end the epidemic as soon as possible.”