Volunteerism may be one of the most significant achievements of the country, arising from its two deadliest earthquakes in less than two years.
The April 14 earthquake in Yushu of Qing Hai province has proven to be as merciless as the one that hit Wenchuan in Sichuan province almost two years ago. But Hong Kong volunteer Huang Furong's death sends a message: That the altruism displayed by many people in Yushu county's ongoing rescue and relief work provides the ray of hope that gives us the courage to take on natural disasters and contribute to the building of an even brighter future.
Huang could have survived the Yushu quake had he not returned to rescue three students and a teacher trapped inside a collapsed building. He rushed into the building twice to save others, until he himself was trapped inside.
Huang reportedly once said it would be "happiness from heaven" if he died as a volunteer.
As a truck driver from Hong Kong, he was already volunteering at a school in Yushu when the earthquake struck. In 2002, he traveled by foot from Hong Kong to Beijing in seven months to collect funds for a Chinese bone marrow bank. He also transported relief material to help victims of the May 12, 2008 Wenchuan tremor.
Like what fuels many volunteers, Huang believed that the real meaning of life lies in the amount of service one can provide for others.
The number of volunteers and voluntary organizations has been on the rise since the Wenchuan earthquake. The quake helped more realize that people still need help from each other, to make the world a better place to live.
Volunteerism may be one of the most significant achievements of the country, arising from its two deadliest earthquakes in less than two years. Hopefully, such volunteerism may extend to more fields beyond that of rescue and relief work for natural disasters. We need better mechanisms to encourage and support voluntary activities.