'Thank you': Chinese family donates 46,000 face masks to Flemish city

'Thank you': Chinese family donates 46,000 face masks to Flemish city
Credit: De Chinees in de Lessenstraat/Google Street View

A Chinese family has donated just under 50,000 face masks as a thank you gift to a small Flemish city where they ran a popular restaurant for decades.

A donation of 46,000 face masks arrived from China to the Flemish city of Geraardsbergen, a gift from the Chen family who ran 'The Chinese in the Lessenstraat' for 30 years.

The restaurant was a popular eating spot with locals, with Geraardsbergen Mayor Guido De Padt referring to the family-ran establishment as a "household name" in the city of some 33,000, located some 60 km west of Brussels.

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"It was synonymous with enjoyment," De Padt told Het Nieuwsblad, who said getting the family's gift to arrive in Belgium was no easy task, with the parcels subject to checks from health authorities.

Arrived in Belgium in the 1970s, the Chens and their two Belgian-born children returned to China in the early 2000s.

Hearing of the mask shortages Belgium was facing as the coronavirus pandemic started sweeping through Europe, Catherine Chen decided to make the donation as a way to give something in return to the small Flemish city

"My mom Catherine, who is active in pigeon trading, wanted to give something back to the people of Geraardsbergen in these extraordinary times," Eric, one of the Chen children, said. "To a city that  we love and was our home for over 30 years."

New infection rates in Geraardsbergen remain low, with only two new coronavirus cases detected there in the past seven days, according to the latest figures by health institute Sciensano.

"We are very grateful to the Chen family for this noble gesture," De Padt said, adding that their donation will help the city build a strategic stock of equipment to distribute when it became necessary.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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