I’ve never been a person afraid of numbers. But I am now. From last Monday, 8000, 12000, 19000, 22000, and now 40000. My heart sank every time I heard the number had increased yet again. I tried to resist imagining what the number means as individual persons and families. I couldn’t. Watching TV news became an emotional ride every time. More than once, I burst into tears in public when I read the newspaper report.

Since last Wednesday, I’ve been helping to build the Sichuan Earthquake Update website. This is to update the public with latest information about the earthquake, its aftermath, and the rescue, relief and recovering process. It is not a news website; rather, it is focus on personal stories, direct experiences, and volunteers’ action and requests. A small team of volunteers are keeping contact with the front line, collecting news and stories, and translating messages from Chinese to English. The website is a joint efforts by charity Mother Bridge of Love (MBL), LinkChinese UK, and Chinese Young Professionals in Edinburgh. We also asked the public to donate money to MBL, who will use the fund to help children affected by the quake.

The website went alive on last Wednesday, quickly attracted about 400 daily visitors from the UK, but also from China, US, Singapore, Hong Kong and other places. In one week time, MBL’s online donation page has collected over 15,000 pounds. Reading the comments left by the donors is heart-warming. The sympathy and support shown by the public and fellow Chinese are tremendous.

I was reading this tale the other day, which has its origin in Buddhism literature. A mountain is on fire. A bird dives into a lake, then flies over the fire. The bird fluffs its feather to spread a few drops of water towards the fire. The God sees this and says to the bird, “Do you really think you can put out the fire with a few drops of water on your feather?” “No,” answers the bird, “but I once lived here. I must do something.”

Yes, we must do something.