Cheer up, expat steps up to volunteer in his community
Although Swede Marko Tuovila doesn't speak Chinese well, he is volunteering in his community Chunshen Fudi in Minhang District.
Tuovila spends 2 to 4 hours per day helping with food deliveries, walking around the community to ensure everyone stays at home, and helping residents to nucleic acid test sites.
"Everything is well organized and people in the volunteer group are doing the best they can during the situation we are all in," he told Shanghai Daily.
"It's actually pretty impressive how much people can understand just with our senses like hearing or seeing."
At the end of March, Tuovila saw recruiting information about helping with the community's food delivery in a WeChat group. Although the working hours are during late nights or early mornings, he said it fits in with his schedule.
"I think it's a nice and right thing to do for the community," he said, "We have time and energy. We are helping each other as much as we can and do something collectively."
Tuovila began his first volunteer experience on the morning of April 1. He carried supplies out of a truck, put them into carts and distributed them to buildings' representatives with other volunteers.
Luckily, some volunteers can speak English well and were asked to pair up with Tuovila. The rest of them are also willing to explain the situation to him through using simple words, a translation app or using body language.
When he is saying simple Chinese sentences to residents, such as "Qǐng Huí Jiā (Please go home)" or "Jiā Yóu (Cheer up)," they always encourage him to learn more.
"Everyone has been very friendly, patient and understanding," he said. "They have helped me a lot."
Tuovila was impressed by the story of a father and his young daughter. The father in protective suit was on duty with virus-related work around the city and scheduled in his own community that day. To ensure safety, he could only see the little girl at a safe distance.
Tuovila was really moved and took a picture of them to record the moment.
Through the volunteering experiences, he has made many new friends outside his building and gotten closer to people in his neighborhood. Being a volunteer and helping others makes him happy.
"We have a pretty good connection with each other in my community," he said. "People have shown their mutual respect. I will continue to do so."