Xiao Ming was free. He thought instead of sitting in front of his computer and following all the gossips, or joining the gossip in a coffee-shop, it would be much better to do something meaningful. Thus, he and a few friends collected some donations, bought some daily stuff and sent them to the flood relief centre. It so happened they met an MCA voluntary flood relief team and they all went together.
My friend went to the flood areas purely to render help. The first day, they washed a school building. Even though it was tough, they were all happy because they found it meaningful. Besides, they also had the opportunity of meeting an MCA minister. They even shook hands.
Xiao Ming was very happy. However, when he returned home, he was not happy anymore because there are netizens who didn’t go to the scene to help but smear those who helped and said they were staging a show.
Xiao Ming’s mother was encouraging. She said this was only small matter. Just carry on doing it, she said. A few days later, Xiao Ming followed the volunteers to the flood areas again. They distributed mattresses and he could sense the warm response.
And then he saw people claiming to be members of a certain political party berating the volunteers and acting as if they wanted to assault them. Although there were certain procedure to follow in the distribution of mattresses, there were also people who demanded and took them by force. The result was unpleasant.
In the aftermath of the floods, some thought that because they were flood victims, they deserved the sympathy. When they were hungry, they called the volunteers and wanted them to send the food parcels over. Some flood victims were sent to the relief centre and found the food not to their taste. They just dumped the food under a tree after a few mouthfuls. Some insisted on staying in the relief centre and refused to go home even though the floods is over. They demanded the government or the authorities to compensate them for their losses caused by the floods.
During the disaster, we saw many who really cared for the victims. We also saw many volunteers, especially those from MCA, being berated. During my reporting work, I heard some say these volunteers deserved to be berated. Nobody asked them to come and help, why be such busy bodies? they asked. Some even said, “since all the goods are free, why reject them? If I’m denied of the stuff, I would post my complaint on the facebook.”
An MCA grass-roots leader was even ridiculed for wearing MCA party uniform when doing the relief work “as if he has no other shirt to wear.” He didn’t know whether to cry or to laugh. Does it mean that he needs to choose what to wear to do relief work? Does it mean that wearing party uniform is staging a show?
Did the MCA volunteers who washed the school building just held the water hose for picture shooting and left after that? He finds it frustrating. He could only blame the fact that MCA does not enjoy mass support and as such, even if they have done a lot, it is not necessarily that it would touch these people.
All you flood victims, I understand you have suffered much and you have my sympathy. Of course, not all flood victims are so unreasonable. There are many who thanked the volunteers for their help. All you volunteers, I also understand your difficult situation. What I can do is like what I have told Xiao Ming: carry on!
To be volunteers is a thankless job. Politicians who enjoy the support of the people get to do the pleasant thing. They do not have to go to flooded areas to help. All they do is make a round in the flooded area and post it on facebook and they get all the applause!