More than 5,000 volunteers of the Bethune Volunteers Association recently sent a letter and many photos to Premier Li Keqiang, telling him about their experiences over the past two decades — and they never expected him to write back.
The premier first met some of the volunteers in 1994, when the association in Bethune Medical University, which later became part of Jilin University, organized for the first time a group of young volunteers to go to the countryside and help rural residents increase their understanding of culture, science and health-related issues. Li was at the time the chief secretary of the Chinese Communist Youth League central committee.
Zhu Yanfeng, deputy secretary-general of Jilin province, came to Jilin University to deliver the premier’s letter, and read it out to them.
The volunteers applauded when he read the premier’s concluding words, saying that volunteering is something positive for society — and also the volunteers.
Li also wrote: “Your values take you forward. I hope you continue helping people in need, sharing love and knowledge, spreading together with tens of thousands of volunteers the positive energy of helping each other, and I hope you will form a good atmosphere of respecting ethical conduct and doing good for society. I also hope you will all put your heart into research and study, hone your skills and personality, and improve your lives while contributing to the development of the nation and the well-being of all its citizens.”
“The premier’s caring words cheered us up, and made us realize our important responsibilities,” said one of the volunteers, Qian Yuetong. “And the premier’s sincere requests inspired us. We will continue working in the spirit of volunteering, with youthful vigor and using our professional knowledge, improve our performance in practice and dedication, and contribute to building socialism.”
Kong Weijian, president of the Bethune Volunteers Association, said the volunteers take advantage of their medical background, and they are expected to innovate in their work, expand their service categories, and provide help to more people in need, so as to live up to the premier’s expectation.
Gao Jicheng, who worked as the first president of the association, has witnessed the development of volunteering over the past two decades.
“The encouragement and support of the premier will no doubt trigger in society another surge in interest in volunteering. This means more volunteers will come to work in cities and villages, and the positive energy generated by helping others will spread to every corner of society,” Gao said.