Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: The story of a Chinese girl stuck in India

Updated on Apr 30, 2020 09:51 PM IST

After suffering a mental breakdown, Chinese citizen Zhang Aixi had no place to go. The young solo traveler found a home away from home at a Haryana based NGO.

In such a charged atmosphere, Zhang Aixi, a Chinese citizen found herself stuck as the lockdown was announced. Zhang had come to India on a solo trip in January.
In such a charged atmosphere, Zhang Aixi, a Chinese citizen found herself stuck as the lockdown was announced. Zhang had come to India on a solo trip in January.
Hindustan Times | ByShara Ashraf Prayag & Swati Chaturvedi

With coronavirus turning life upside down all over the world, Chinese citizens are facing a double threat. As they grapple like everyone else with how to escape the virus itself, they are also facing growing racism. There has been an alarming rise in anti-Chinese sentiment across the world.

In such a charged atmosphere, Zhang Aixi, a Chinese citizen found herself stuck as the lockdown was announced. Zhang had come to India on a solo trip in January.

As travel came to a halt worldwide with the outbreak of COVID-19, she realised she was going to be away from her family for a very long time. It became increasingly difficult for her to keep in touch with her mother in China. Zhang felt homeless and restless in a new country and suffered a serious mental and emotional breakdown. Some people even mocker her by calling her ‘China Virus’, when she ventured out of the PG.

Zhang went into severe depression, and sometimes started having episodes of aggression. With her deteriorating mental state and no medical support, she was soon thrown out of the PG she was living in Gurugram.

When the Gurugram police got to know about her condition, they decided to put her up in an NGO. But none of the NGOs or shelters agreed to keep her due to coronavirus scare.

Finally, Earth Saviours Foundation, in Bandhwari village in Gurugram, agreed to take her in. Ravi Kalra, founder, says “My NGO takes care of people who have been abandoned, depressed or mentally challenged. When Zhang came here, we welcomed her with open arms. I believe in selfless seva. We never discriminate between human beings. Her being Chinese doesn’t make her any less of a human being, and mental illness is no taboo.”

“Many other NGOs that look after such individuals refused to her help as she was Chinese. We are glad that here she has found a home away from home,” he adds.

Zhang can’t thank Indians enough for their kindness. As we connected her to Hem Kusum, assistant professor in the Department of Chinese Language and Culture, Visva Bharti University, Santiniketan, West Bengal on phone, she said, “I am so grateful to India for all the love that people gave me here. I am so lucky that I got to experience such compassion in this birth. Ravi Kalra has a heart of gold. He helps everyone selflessly, and there’s so much positivity here.”

She also spoke about how badly she misses her mom and wants to be with her soon.

Karan Goel, ACP, DLF, Gurgaon, says there is so much negativity and gloom around, and such real life stories of compassion give us strength in these distressing times. “We are happy that we could do something good by helping Zhang. Four lady constables have been assigned to ensure the security of the Chinese tourist. Earth Saviours Foundation has the manpower, resources and expertise to host the foreigner.”

With Zhang Aixi being tested negative for Covid-19, Kalra says, “I am happy that she is doing well and there is a lot of improvement in her mental state as well. It is my duty to serve my nation, taking care of our guests has always been our tradition. In this time of crisis, hosting Zhang and ensuring that she takes back happy memories to China is the least I can do.”

The NGO is in constant touch with the Chinese Embassy and they have assured that they would initiate the process of sending Zhang back to her mother as soon as possible. Kalra has arranged Zhang’s meeting with the officials and the process of sending the Chinese girl back to her country in a rare case has been initiated.

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