People from different walks of life in a southern Vietnamese province have given complimentary food to patients irrespective of their family background for nearly three decades and recently offered free ambulance rides to them.
The grassroots charitable organization includes hundreds of members who are war veterans, farmers and former doctors, many of whom are over 60 years old.
It has run its common-good effort at the Binh Minh General Hospital in Vinh Long in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
The members work in subgroups that take turns in cooking food at the infirmary after rising early in the morning to travel multiple kilometers from their homes.
Gratis breakfast, always expected to be ready prior to 5:00 am, has rice porridge accompanied by lukewarm water that has been boiled.
The charitable workers are then busy making lunch and supper, with over 500 servings provided to patients of the general hospital on a daily basis.
The help was offered only to patients of disadvantaged background in the early days since the group’s inception, but it was later extended to all people receiving medical treatment at the institution, relatives who tend them, and even the clinic’s security guards and cleaning personnel.
Three months ago, the charitable group began operating five ambulances that transfer patients free of charge from their home to other hospitals in the country at any time of the day.
The vehicles, parked at different locations in Vinh Long, were purchased using donations from the members and philanthropists.
The group’s kind gesture during the past many years has proved very beneficial to poor patients.
Le Minh Ly, who has taken care of his 80-year-old mother for a year at the infirmary, said this was the best place that the woman with severe heart condition had ever visited, as costs for every service were covered by the charitable organization.
Nguyen Ngoc Lanh, who monitors the cooking at the hospital’s kitchen, said the group is solely guided by a desire to help people get through difficulties.
“One of our principles is giving without receiving anything in return from patients, whether they are poor or not,” Lanh said.
|Patients receive free food from the charitable organization at the Binh Minh General Hospital in Vinh Long Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The story of the organization’s foundation enjoys an element of altruism.
Do Thi Ngon, who retired from her work at the general hospital, established the organization’s fund by selling her own clinic, which earned her dozens of millions of dong monthly (VND1 million = US$43).
Ngon put the money from the sale into the bank as savings and took out the interest to maintain the group’s community activities.
When old age came, Ngon handed the management over to Ngo Thi Kim Chuyen, who together with many retired teachers has asked for financial contributions to their cause from members of the public.
The volunteer also contributes to running the hospital’s charitable kitchen, which now looks more sanitary than it did in the early days.
The group’s assistance has transcended the infirmary’s confines to reach a wider community.
It has given money to the lonely elderly, and wheelchairs to disabled people who sell lottery tickets on an itinerant basis, scholarships to students and paid hospital fees for impoverished patients.
The charitable organization also helped build bridges and roads in rural Vinh Long, which is crisscrossed by multiple rivers and canals.