Volunteers help with relief work in quake-hit region

"I truly enjoy volunteering because I know what I am doing makes people feel better in vulnerable times."

Volunteers are playing a significant role in relief work in the quake-hit region of southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The powerful quake struck Jiuzhaigou County at 9:19 p.m. Tuesday. Twenty people have been confirmed dead while 431 reported injuries, including 18 seriously injured, as of Thursday.

On Thursday morning, He Jiao arrived in the county's central square in a red uniform with the word "volunteer" on it. A recent college graduate, she comforted and answered questions from anxious tourists stranded in Jiuzhaigou.

In a 500-member chat group on her Wechat social messaging app, other volunteers sent messages advising which areas lack water or other supplies.

After the quake, up to 1,000 volunteers showed up at temporary shelters, roadside booths and hospital wards, offering help and condolences to the victims of the natural disaster.

"I remember the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008. I was at school in neighboring Gansu Province, and saw a crack appear in my dormitory wall, so I know how scary it can be," He recalled. "When the quake struck Jiuzhaigou, I took a moment to calm myself, then headed to the county center to see what I could do."

The young woman arrived at the county government at midnight and saw many volunteers, but no organization.

"So I just set up a Wechat group and asked other volunteers to join," He said. "We assigned tasks via the group, such as setting up tents, and assisting the injured."

More and more volunteers joined and the group quickly reached 500.

Yang Guomei is another volunteer helping in the county. On Wednesday, she spent the afternoon looking after an injured tourist from Guangzhou at Jiuzhaigou County People's Hospital.

The bus the tourist was in overturned and she was thrown into a river.

"When I arrived at the hospital, I saw she was covered in blood," Yang said. "Her hand was bleeding, her leg fractured, and her pants were torn, so I went to a nearby shop and bought her a new pair of pants and a T-shirt."

After the tourist underwent an operation, Yang and other volunteers helped her back to the ward.

"When I asked if she needed anything, she remained silent," Yang said. "Then she started crying, saying she couldn't find her husband, so I just told her that everything would be OK."

Zhao Jianrong, an injured tourist from east China's Jiangsu Province, was very appreciative of the volunteers.

"These young people are just great," Zhao said. "They gave us milk, steamed buns, porridge, instant noodles and water. Whenever we needed anything, they were there for us."

After the earthquake, people from all walks of life offered free water, milk, tents, quilts and food, and volunteers like He helped deliver the supplies to the injured.

"I truly enjoy volunteering because I know what I am doing makes people feel better in vulnerable times," she said.

"Besides police and officials, volunteers are playing an important role in post-quake relief work," said Gu Wenyong, government official from Jiuzhaigou County. "Their help has made things easier for us."

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