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17/08/2021 - 08:06

Silent people behind special repatriation

When hundreds of Hue disadvantaged people in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) took the trains and planes to repatriate safely, few people knew that the successful repatriation was attributed to the great support and effort of the volunteers. They are also the sons of Hue, living and working in HCMC. Without fear, worry and just out of love for their compatriots, they made efforts to support at all costs.

The volunteers help the disadvantaged carry luggage

“When the plane or train departs, we breathe a sigh of relief. Seeing our Hue people repatriate, my heart is so joyful. Never before have there been such strange send-offs, even if they were not for relatives.” -​​That was the emotion of the volunteers in charge of coordinating and supporting Hue natives at the railway station and airport in HCMC.

“I have to be present to help”

Owing to the particularity of the repatriation, founding a group to support Hue natives from HCMC back to Hue was by no means simple. Through many connections, a group of volunteers, upon hearing the news, offered to help Hue people board a plane and train.

Even the fact that they could pass so many checkpoints to reach the station so many hours in advance was a long story. “Some say they risk their life, others think they defy. But no, they are my compatriots, the sons far from home. They share the same fate as me. I have to be present to help,” Nguyen Loi, one of the volunteers supporting and taking care of his compatriots returning home, said in a tearful voice.

Mr. Loi recalled that as soon as receiving the information and list sent from Hue, he also made his own plan to be present to help the people get on a train and plane safely before his returning to the lodging. The task seemed to be simple, but amid the pandemic in HCMC, it was not feasible to everybody.

Both the flight and train departed from the early afternoon, but Mr. Loi and the volunteers had to be present early in the morning. The volunteers had to call the roll, check the lists, guide queuing, perform testing procedures and boarding procedures, etc. Without the volunteers, it would be difficult to have the safe and quick repatriation.

Special send-offs

“Looking at the poor people, pregnant women slogging down, I felt pity for them. Despite telling myself to keep my distance upon support, I couldn't," said Loi.

He said a few elderly people, owing to the hitch in updating the list, thought they could not return home and cried at the platform. Immediately, he connected with the people who made the list to re-update the information and raced to perform the procedures so that those elderly people could get on the plane or train in time.

“They cried because they thought they couldn't come back. But afterwards they cried even more when they could return and thanked me. Looking at them made me cry too," Loi said emotionally.

The 38-year-old man, with more than 10 years of making a living in HCMC, said although desiring to return home with his wife and children, he decided to stay because at least he remains young and healthy compared with many other circumstances. "Therefore, I will support my compatriots here as well as the local authorities, if needed," asserted Mr. Loi.

Facing the risk

Nguyen Tien - another Hue native in HCMC put aside all work to support his compatriots at the railway station and airport. The 36-year-old boy, who has lived in the city named after Uncle for years, knows that the pandemic is stressful, he could return home many days earlier, but he said no.

Nguyen Tien is always present on the support trips to take his compatriots home

On the days when HCMC was blockaded, he was the bridge to receive the support goods and food from Hue and then distributed to his compatriots in many locations. And upon hearing the news that there was a great need for the volunteers to support the disadvantaged in performing the procedures at the station to return home, he immediately registered. Regardless of the risks, he said, it is all out of the love for the compatriots and homeland.

According to Tien, the time for such support was extremely urgent, but everything had to be safe. He didn’t mind all the work such as guiding tests, keeping a distance, checking each person's name, assisting with carrying luggage.... It wasn't until Hue compatriots boarded the train or plane to return home that he felt relieved after taking off his sweaty protective suit.

“Looking at the compatriots’ tears, joy and thirst for returning home, I was also touched. I will stay in HCMC, and as long as there are flights and trains to help the people return home, I will be present to help," affirmed Tien.

As for Hue compatriots who have not yet been able to return, he said he will continue to call for the food and foodstuff donation to support them in the days of social distancing in HCMC.

So far, after many trips to support hundreds of the compatriots in difficult circumstances in returning home, Tran Thuan Hoa, a son of Hue living in HCM, has been in tears. Hoa is the main coordinator supporting the compatriots in performing all procedures on the repatriation journey.

Starting the story by phone, from HCMC, he said modestly, “We do just for the compatriots, for the guidance of conscience.” He said most of the compatriots traveling by plane were the first-timers, so they encountered many obstacles to health declaration procedures. Therefore, many people panicked with anxious face.

“There was no other way, I both gave out the protective suits and asked the volunteers to help with health declaration. And it was not until the last person left the terminal that I felt relieved," recalled Hoa.

Let alone the countless situations that arose before. Many cases for some reason could not go to the airport, compelling him to connect the localities and then contact the people put on the standby list. In just a short time, it was not easy to solve those difficulties.

Unlike at the airport, the number of people travel by train was larger, so the support was harder. Many hours before departure, Hoa went to the station to receive tickets and then distribute them to the people. In order of priority, the pregnant women and people with background diseases received berth tickets; the rest seat tickets.

The train leaving the platform was also the time when Hoa and his volunteers were exhausted because of hunger and thirst. He said, during contact, most volunteers have not been vaccinated, so they had to wear protective suits to approach and give the people maximum help.

“We have to ensure safety not only for ourselves but also for our Hue people. The people will carry no disease and return home safely; the home province will face no difficulties,” Hoa affirmed when accepting the invitation to support the people.

Also according to Hoa, despite their efforts to minimize risks, the volunteers also deemed that if something unfortunate happened, they would accept it.

How marvelous they are!

Ngo Phuoc Tuan, Head of Thua Thien Hue Liaison Board for Fellow Students and Youth in HCMC, one of the members of the group of supporting the people in returning to Hue said that the past few days were "confusing but loving". Confusion originated from countless incoming calls, but I was unable to take care of everyone. Love stemmed from seeing Hue compatriots return home and entering an isolation area safely.

Tuan said that the fruits were attributed to the support of the volunteers, who are Hue people living in HCMC amid the pandemic. The volunteers who are enthusiastic, committed, unafraid of danger went to the airport and railway station to support the compatriots. Despite a very high risk of COVID-19 infection, everyone did not hesitate to fulfill the task well.

“The plan to transport the people back home cannot be fruitful without the sweat of the volunteers. They greatly supported Hue Association of Fellow-Countrymen in Saigon and Thua Thien Hue Provincial People's Committee in three spells of taking Thua Thien Hue people back home. How marvelous they are!” shared Tuan.

Story: NHAT MINH – Photos: NGUYEN CUONG

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