Family bond remains strong across ocean as coronavirus spreads

Updated: Feb. 14, 2020 at 6:03 PM CST
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SUMRALL, Miss. (WDAM) - Snow Cheng grew up about 400 miles west Wuhan, China, which is being called the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

“There is just one province in between my hometown and Wuhan," Cheng said. "So, it’s very close. There are a little more than 400 people who have it in my hometown.”

Now, Cheng lives in the quaint town of Sumrall with her family. As she and her husband take care of their baby girl, she worries about her family and friends half-way around the world facing a major health threat.

“My grandmothers, my aunts and all of my relatives are all there," Cheng said. "Actually, my grandfather is from Wuhan. So, my distant relatives are in Wuhan.”

Snow shows us a snapshot of her heritage and her family roots, pictures and stories from her home.

As she talks to her family over the phone, she says they are doing well, thankfully no one she knows has the virus, but they are very concerned. Her family and friends are forced to stay inside during this Chinese holiday season in order to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

“They are just telling me not to come back home," Cheng said. "Right now, companies are delayed. It is the Chinese New Year and everyone is on vacation and the companies are telling them [employees] to come back later.”

Not only are businesses delaying opening up shop, another issue at hand, Snow says, are students returning back to school following the Chinese New Year.

“They told me school may also delay," Cheng said. "So, everyone is just staying at home. The schools right now are planning to have online studies.”

Online classes that could last for an extended period of time depending on the wide-spread virus.

Snow was planning a vacation back to her hometown in April, for her family to meet little 4-month-old Diana. But, due to the deadly outbreak, her trip is now postponed.

“It’s getting serious and now all the flights are getting canceled," Cheng said. "Now, I will have to cancel my flight.”

As the threat continues, residents in China are forced to wear face masks when they leave their home.

“They have to have masks because it’s dangerous,” Cheng said.

However, because of the growing problem, there is a shortage of masks. Snow’s mother-in-law, Dawn Beam, says it was no question to step in and send help.

“You know, the world is really small and we have gotten to know Snow’s family and love them," Beam said. "We have a huge communication barrier. So, one way we can show that we love them is by sending the masks during this difficult time.”

Just last week, more than a thousand face masks were boxed up and shipped overseas.

“We were desperate to find masks and Merit Health was very gracious to donate 1,200 adult masks and 200 pediatric masks,” Beam said. "This is certainly a huge need in China. We are all in this together. When we help our fellow man we help us as well.

World’s away, the two families are still able to show the beauty of a family bond.

“This beautiful picture behind us represents about one thousand hours of somebody working and that’s their way of showing us," Beam said. "So, even though we may not speak the same language, love crosses all barriers.”

Snow and her family continue to keep China in their hearts. They want to remind others not only about the battle they face, but the strength they have to move forward.

“When I talked to my parents they tell me, 'Go China and go Wuhan!” They can beat it," Cheng said.

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