Pas­sen­gers’ fam­i­lies pray­ing for a mir­a­cle

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By JIN HAIX­ING and ZHU XINGXIN

Lin An­nan had been study­ing in Malaysia and was plan­ning to re­turn home to Xin­ing, cap­i­tal of Qing­hai prov­ince.

But the stu­dent, in his 20s, never made it back. He was one of the 154 Chi­nese pas­sen­gers on Malaysia Air­lines flight MH370.

His mother, who wants to be known by her sur­name Lin, be­lieves he is still alive.

Like many of the Chi­nese pas­sen­gers on board the Boe­ing 777-200, he was an only child.

To pray for her son, Lin set up a chat group on the pop­u­lar mo­bile mes­sag­ing ser­vice WeChat.

She in­vited her friends and rel­a­tives of other pas­sen­gers to join the group, say­ing the prayers were for all 239 people on the flight.

“If we hold on to our love, there will be a mir­a­cle,” she said.

e jet­liner van­ished on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bei­jing on March 8.

The multi­na­tional search far off the Aus­tralian city of Perth has been fo­cused on find­ing the plane’s black box data recorders in a re­mote area of the In­dian Ocean.

Like Lin An­nan’s mother, many other rel­a­tives still hope that their loved ones will re­turn alive as they con­tinue the ag­o­niz­ing wait for news.

Wang Jian, a doc­tor in the psy­chi­a­try depart­ment at Bei­jing Hui­long­guan Hospi­tal, said, “Many of them can­not eas­ily ac­cept the re­al­ity”.

Wang has been leading a team to help the pas­sen­gers’ fam­i­lies since the plane dis­ap­peared.

Many of the fam­i­lies may choose to deny the facts on hand, but that is un­der­stand­able be­cause it shows how deeply they miss their loved ones, Wang said.

“Be­ing there is just the be­gin­ning of the psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port that we can try to pro­vide,” he added.

Vol­un­teers from Wang’s team also give sug­ges­tions to the rel­a­tives on how to cope with the sit­u­a­tion, but will not op­pose the fam­i­lies’ views, Wang said.

Ev­ery day, his team meets the rel­a­tives, who are wait­ing for news at five ho­tels in Bei­jing. The team also checks the fam­ily mem­bers’ health.

A con­sul­ta­tion desk has been set up at the Metropark Lido Ho­tel for the fam­i­lies, along with a 24-hour helpline.

The desk han­dles an aver­age of six psy­cho­log­i­cal con­sul­ta­tions each day, Wang said.

Medicine is also of­fered to rel­a­tives with ail­ments such as sleep­ing dis­or­ders, team mem­bers said.

Wang, who has a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence in dis­as­ter re­lief work, said the MH370 mis­sion is more com­pli­cated be­cause of the un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the on­go­ing search and its long-term ef­fects on the fam­i­lies.

To es­tab­lish an­other chan­nel to help the rel­a­tives, Bei­jing Hui­long­guan Hospi­tal set up an of­fice on Tues­day to re­ceive those with men­tal prob­lems caused by the long wait.

A team of doc­tors will help rel­a­tives who might have long-term dis­or­ders.

The of­fice has re­ceived sev­eral rel­a­tives since Tues­day, Wang said, adding that it might take a long time, or even a life­time, for the rel­a­tives to re­cover from their or­deal.

Feng Zhixin is feel­ing the ef­fects. When he first heard about the miss­ing plane, he took the first flight to Bei­jing from the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion, where he works.

His 21-year-old son Feng Dong, an only child, who had been work­ing for a con­struc­tion com­pany in Sin­ga­pore, took flight MH370 to re­turn to China.

On April 8, his son’s birth­day, Feng bought a cake and marked the event alone. He has been tak­ing pills to help him sleep and has also been talk­ing to doc­tors about his de­pres­sion.

Zhang Youqin, an ex­pert on so­ci­ol­ogy and so­cial work from Xi­a­men Univer­sity, said eco­nomic or fi­nan­cial sup­port for the fam­i­lies might not be the sole or most im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion, be­cause the men­tal trauma might be even more dam­ag­ing, es­pe­cially for those like Feng who have lost their only child.

The govern­ment and so­ci­ety as a whole should of­fer more sup­port and help these fam­i­lies to rebuild their lives.

Se­nior fam­ily mem­bers who have lost their only child should be given pri­or­ity to en­ter nurs­ing homes, she said. Con­tact the writ­ers at jin­haixin@chi­nadaily. and zhux­ingxin@ chi­

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