Volunteer stories from the Athletes Village
2010-December-23 Source: Newsgd.com
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Source: CNTV

The Athletes Village was where athletes rested and participated in leisure activities during the Asian Para Games. It was always established as a “forbidden area” in order to allow athletes to focus on the competitions. Our reporter was lucky enough to interview volunteers who had “zero-distance” exchanges with athletes and listened to their stories at the Athletes Village.

A volunteer’s friendship with a cerebral palsy athlete

“After I getting along with A’Qiang for a few days, I called him brother and he called me sister,” said Guo Bingjie, a volunteer at the accommodation service department of the Athletes Village. Guo was the assistant director of the housekeeping department of the Guangzhou-based White Swan Hotel in charge of the reception of presidential suite guests before becoming a volunteer at the Athletes Village. She established a deep friendship with Qiang, a cerebral palsy athlete from Macao.

Qiang liked surfing the Internet in between matches, but he had to use a special tool to operate the keyboard. Guo accompanied Qiang to surf the Internet each time and carefully prepared a special sheet to record his living habits such as the time to get up and surf the Internet. As the temperature dropped drastically during the games, Guo also bought him clothes and quilts. Guo offered him delicate care such as writing notes in traditional Chinese characters, adjusting the height of the shower and reminding him of distinguishing cold from hot water switches.

Qiang was joyful whenever Guo was around. “We have no difficulties in communicating and understanding each other,” said Guo. Qiang’s mother was very thankful of Guo’s care of her son, because Qiang often mentioned her by saying, “She is like an elder sister to me.”

Chen Muzhen, a local retired teacher 73 years old, applied for doing volunteer laundry service after learning that the company owned by one of her students would provide laundry services for the Asian Para Games. The laundry center washed at least 40,000 items of clothing a day and the maximum working hours even reached 13 hours a day. However, Chen did not complain and made no mistakes in her laundry service.

Huang Huai is a blind volunteer who has worked as a massage teacher at a Guangzhou-based school for the blind for 10 years. She primarily provided massage service at the Sports Rehabilitation Center. She got out of bed before daybreak every morning and commuted one and a half hours to get to the Athletes Village. She had offered 80 hours of services since the Athletes Village opened. Huang said, “When volunteers came up to help me, I told them proudly that I am a volunteer too. I am very delighted to serve athletes and see them accomplish outstanding athletic achievements.”

Considerate 24-hour services for athletes

Wheelchairs are the feet of athletes with disabled lower limbs. During the Asian Para Games, Ou Bingxiang, a volunteer from the Guangdong Provincial Prosthetics and Orthotics Rehabilitation Center, worked for over 12 hours every day repairing wheelchairs and artificial limbs for more than 700 athletes. The head of the Tajikistan sports delegation was quite satisfied with the repair services. Ou said, “After Chinese wheelchair tennis players succeeded in entering the next round of competitions, they specially came to thank us and take photos with us. We were moved that the players still remembered us.”

As Asian Para Games athletes mostly have old wounds due to basic diseases and training, the rehabilitation department of the outpatient clinics were the busiest place at the Athletes Village. Shen Tong, director of the rehabilitation department of the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University with 20 years of spondylodynia treatment experience, serviced over 800 athletes during the Asian Para Games, the highest number among all department-level directors.

Given the inconvenient movement of athletes with disabled limbs, medical care personnel provided them with outcall services. To facilitate athletes with visual disabilities, volunteers from the pharmaceutical department divided large medicine boxes into smaller parts and then packed a dose of medicine according to doctors' prescription before delivering them to athletes. The number of clinic patients surged because of drastic temperature drops and the larger temperature difference between day and night. A total of 273 medical care volunteers went on duty and worked three shifts a day to provide athletes with 24-hour medical care services.

“Sunshine in the Athletes Village”

Jameer was a consultant to the Guangzhou Asian Games and Guangzhou Asian Para Games from Senegal with 15-years of experience in organizing medium and large-sized sports competitions. He spoke of his personal experiences at the Athlete Village, “It was close to be midnight when I returned to the Athletes Village after the opening ceremony. I saw a woman standing at the gate welcoming athletes. I was informed later that she is the head of the Athletes Village.”

He said, “The services at the Guangzhou Asian Para Games are meticulous and considerate. I have participated in the organizing work of the Olympic and Asian games as well as some international sports competitions in Africa, but I actually feel that Guangzhou’s organizational and operational levels are exceptional. The people of Guangzhou should be proud of this.”

A pretty girl from Ukraine has lived in Guangzhou for three years. She volunteered at the liaison department of the volunteer team at the Athletes Village. She said while recalling her feelings about the Asian Para Games, “As a new Guangzhou resident, I will not forget my experience in such a grand activity for the rest of my life.”

The Guangzhou Asian Para Games become so successful thanks to the contribution of these ordinary people. “Volunteers have not only provided athletes with all-round services, but also let sunlight shine on the entire Athletes Village and warmed everyone’s heart,” said Zainal Abu Zarin, the president of the Asian Paralympic Committee (APC).

Editor: Olivia
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