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20/08/2020 - 11:11

“Shifting” in summer volunteer work

The annual volunteer season has returned. Thanks to the contribution of Huế’s youth, 2020’s volunteer work has had a long-lasting impact. Instead of constructing new houses and roads like previous years, they chose to stand alongside with health workers in an effort to push back the COVID-19 spread.

Students of the University of Pharmacy and Medicine volunteer to lend their hands in the fight against COVID-19.

Unable to sit still

Starting volunteer work in a rainy day due to the tropical low pressure has reminded Võ Đức Huy of the harsh rainstorms during Operation Green Summer 2019 in A Lưới. Reflecting on his last experience, the University of Pharmacy and Medicine student realized this year’s summer volunteer work is heading towards a more meaningful direction. 

No longer merely providing basic health checkups or taking part in residential construction, this year’s activity revolves around preventing the pandemic’s spread. Even though the new working environment is surrounded by surgical masks, disposable gloves, and medical procedures, the volunteers are happy to provide their helping hands.

Đức Huy has shared that the joy in volunteering in last year’s Operation Green Summer stemmed from the opportunity to participate in community service while gaining field experience. However, this year’s work has been more emotional to volunteers since their mission is not only to help their community, but also to protect themselves and their loved ones.

As every summer comes, the fierce desire to volunteer burns bright in students, especially when the activity sends out a powerful message. Even though having to spend endless nightshifts in proximity with suspected COVID-19 patients might be threatening, the number of registers has been rising at an incredible speed.

Just only a day after the government mobilized sending medical aid to Đà Nẵng - the pandemic’s center, there were 579 students signed up from Huế, far exceeding the suggested number (150 people) from the Ministry of Health. While waiting for Đà Nẵng to obtain aid, more than 200 volunteers from the University of Pharmacy and Medicine and Huế University quickly returned to key outposts to work alongside the disease prevention task force.

“Volunteers have been taking turns at outposts 24 hours a day to assist in medical declaration and relevant procedures,” shared Mr. Võ Văn Khoa, Secretary of the Student Association of the University of Pharmacy and Medicine.

University of Pharmacy and Medicine student’s registration documents.

A highlight in this year’s operation has been the significant rise in number of female volunteers. Bảo Ngọc, a student from the University of Pharmacy and Medicine, claimed that being familiar with nightshifts at local hospitals has eased the challenges presented here.

In the overall atmosphere of 2020’s volunteer work, students and associations hailing from other institutes have also been yearning to contribute to their communities.

Ngô Quốc Minh, a Philosophy major from Huế University of Sciences, shared, “I could have volunteered at my university’s summer program. After getting stuck in Đà Nẵng during the sudden pandemic surge, I immediately signed up for local volunteer work to aid in disease control at Hải Vân pass. Day or night shifts, volunteer work here is so meaningful. Being a capable adult, I will not sit still even though feeling a bit worried about the pandemic ”

Adapting

On the mountainous terrains, volunteer work has swiftly adjusted to fight against the pandemic. A few union members from local minorities have shared that even though they haven’t had many ideas to form newer volunteer models, they, anyhow, can adapt to the current needs.

Secretary of Hồng Vân Communal Union (A Lưới) Nguyễn Đức Lưu, a member of the Pa Cô community, shared that instead of doing the annual environmental sanitization and local construction, this year, the students are asked to assist in the medical declaration and to prepare food at disease prevention outposts.

“We follow the orders assigned to us. No one thinks this is arduous because we understand this is a responsibility towards the community,” said Mr. Lưu.

The new direction might bring along a few missteps, but according to volunteers on the peak of Trường Sơn mountain, any work coming from one’s goodwill can be accomplished effectively. Having a kind heart has led Ms. Lê Thị Tý, a fellow member of the Pa Cô community, who has been carrying out certain volunteer activities in A Luoi town, on her first journey with her union members to keep tract to the situation and to raise social distancing awareness for the people coming from the pandemic regions, has eased their worries about the pandemic’.

“At first, we were also afraid of the pandemic, but after having time to understand and learn preventive measures, we feel more confident. Students are familiar with smartphone, so they could easily help community members install such useful app as Bluezone,” said Ms. Lý.

“Shifting” in volunteer work is a term that volunteers from time to time refers to so as to have a change in the type of activity or community service. This year’s shift has been more apparent than ever before as all sectors of Huế ancient capital redirect their focus towards pushing back COVID-19 pandemic.

Story and photos: HUU PHUC

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