A Chinese man became a "shared father" by helping the families of children with serious diseases with daily chores during the coronavirus pandemic.
The man, only identified with his surname Li, has a child diagnosed with leukaemia. In the past few weeks, he has volunteered to buy groceries and meals for other families with sick children. They all live in rented houses near the First Hospital of Jilin University in Changchun, Jilin province, northeastern China, Henan TV reported.
It's common to find a large number of families from poorer Chinese regions living in the vicinity of major health centres in mainland cities seeking medical treatment for their children as hospitals in their hometowns lack qualified facilities. In many cases, parents have gone into debt and faced unemployment as they take care of their sick children for years.
Jilin province is the most seriously-hit region on the mainland under the latest Omicron outbreak, with Changchun reporting the highest number of infected patients. Many households are currently under lockdown as the city adopts strict epidemic control measures.
As Li can still move around, he collects shopping requests for groceries and vegetables from other families via WeChat before going shopping in wet markets.
After delivering the groceries at the families' door, he calls out to the people inside: "I've put the stuff in front of your door. You can pick it up in a minute."
Li wears a mask while running errands and sprays alcohol on the bags as a disinfectant.
Some people offered to give him extra money for his help, but Li declined.
Li said he regards them as his "sickness friends", referring to friends made in hospital seeking medical treatment.
"It's because my own child also has leukaemia, I understand the difficulties they are facing. As long as I am able to help, I will help," Li told Henan TV. "I can do nothing else, except help them buy groceries and vegetables."
"Since I once got wet in the rain, I always think of holding an umbrella for others," he added.
In Datong of northern Shanxi province, a man named Bai Fuqiang is also seen as a "shared father" because as a former cook he prepares meals for his son and other child patients in Shanxi Provincial Children's Hospital, for free. These children are all sick with serious illnesses, like cancer, the TV station reported.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.