Many people who read my blog want to raise money for the student occupations. We start a bank account, and many people and organisations give us money, but right now this seems a little pointless, as we cannot buy anything – there is no delivery service besides the army to get supplies into the quarantine now, and nobody can leave the campus. We must survive on what we have until the 28 days are over. But you can donate to the independent distribution networks that deliver where the army do not. These are not government or NGO, just ordinary people who get a transport and decide to do something. They have to keep very secret, but they have good communication networks and work inside communities, so can get food where it is needed and organise local distribution before they deliver. A whole neighbourhood in Wukan, Guangdong uses the same system we have here – a schedule for going to the pick-up place and taking food for your house, so that people do not come in contact. I don’t know how they avoid army patrols. Maybe people from inside the army give them information – it is very easy to join now, and soldiers, too, have families needing to eat.
Only the army now move freely in Beijing, and the army grows every day. Requests for volunteers are all over the national Socnets, and many sign up, some wanting to help others, some hoping they will get anti-virals, others just wanting two meals a day. They are given very hard work to do. There are many recruits the same age as the students, and we talk through the video-link to those who deliver food to us. They have complex orders, but not regular, so we cannot predict their movements. Sometimes they come only once in two weeks, another time twice in one day (we think this is an administrative error). They want to know who is in the occupation, numbers of healthy and sick people. We tell them the numbers, but not names. So far we tell them we need very little, and ask them not to break our quarantine. So far, they agree – there is not yet a food shortage in Beijing, it is only distribution that is needed.
Now I can speak with my parents in Anhui, I know it is not the same there. There is very little food and people must leave the house to look for some. Yesterday, army food trucks are in my parents’ neighbourhood, delivering a ration for the next two weeks. After the food is delivered, there is knocking at the door. It is a woman with a boy 3 years old. She is from the next neighbourhood, they do not deliver there yet, but she sees the trucks have been close by, and asks to borrow some food. She can hardly lift the child, she says she has not eaten for three days. She promises she will bring the food back when they have a delivery, and my parents give her a little rice, beans and oil. After another ten minutes, another person comes, this time an old man alone. They give him a little of their own dinner they have just cooked, but nothing to take home – they have little for themselves and cannot give to everybody. They do not answer the door again, though many more people come looking for help.
The main problem with the distributing system is not enough information. Nobody knows where the food is, when it will come. Nobody can plan to ration what they have, and when they have nothing left they must break quarantine or starve. Many of us feel very angry at how this is organised. Many people in the occupation are youth members of the Party, but even they agree that enforcing the silent zones was dangerous and shameful. If we knew what is happening, if we organised our quarantine sooner, many others would be alive now. There is much debating and arguments the political board on our forum, but these go around in a circle until somebody calls for harmony, and then everybody unites to attack that person. It has become a joke on other boards in the forum: somebody will say “I call for harmony!” when there is a disagreement on which singer is best or how to cook a noodle soup. Some worry that there is nobody in charge of the quarantine, and ask who will make us keep our rules. But we all want the quarantine to work. Why else do we stay? More important is that when the quarantine is over, to keep safe we have to remain in occupation. Then we will need to decide how we organise, what are our tactics, and who is in charge.