by Thu Anh
Mooncakes cheer sick children
Last weekend volunteers from local organisations, including the Viet Nam Association for Young People, entertained child patients, most of them with blood cancer, at the Hospital of Hematology and Blood Transfusion in HCM City's District 1.
The fun and games were meant to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with more than 100 children, some of whose lives are possibly drawing to a premature, tragic close.
The volunteers offered mooncakes and lanterns, sang and performed puppetry, and the audience was dazzled despite the absence of spotlights.
"My daughter received her first lantern and mooncake in the hospital," Nguyen Thi My Le, mother of a two-year-old girl with blood cancer, said. "Thanks to doctors and volunteers, we could forget the illness and think of a better future."
Like the other little patients, Le's child also got a cash gift of VND2 million.
"I'll save the money for my daughter's treatment," the woman said. She needs to spend VND300 million (US$15,000) to keeping the child alive.
It is a big burden for Le and her husband, who are farmers in An Giang Province.
"Nothing makes our kids happier than taking part in the Beloved Full Moon Festival," Dr Huynh Nghia, head of the hospital's pediatric hematology department, said.
"They screamed and laughed, sharing their wishes with the beautiful moon fairy, Ms Hang Nga.
"Later they returned to their beds dreaming of beauty and recovery, and forget about pain and illness.
"The programme gave faith and hope to its audience."
He said more than 90 per cent of the child patients at the hospital suffer from blood cancer.
"We are happy to announce that 75-80 per cent of them are still alive after treatment. We will try our best to fight the illness to save their lives."
The eloquent language of flowers
Flowers can convey many messages like greetings, joy, and sorrow. Giving flowers is a way to communicate how you feel without words. The language of flowers even has a name - floriography.
In HCM City, training in floral arrangement provided at cultural houses are popular not just with women but also men.
"I often arrange a new vase of flowers in my room; it cheers me up," Tran Thi Khanh Chi, one of 35 people from different backgrounds attending a course at Women's Cultural House in District 1, says.
"To express my feelings towards my lover and close friends, I like giving them flowers.
"Before learning flower arrangement, my teacher gave us lessons in the language of flowers to make sure our meaning is crystal clear."
Most of us know that a dozen red roses means "Be mine". But did you know, for example, that a primrose means "I can't live without you"? Or that a purple hyacinth flower means "Please forgive me"?
A pink carnation means "Be my friend", a sunflower means "I'll never forget you", and a violet means "faithfulness".
"There is a meaning behind colors and number of flowers, and the kind of flower as well," Vo Tuan Anh, owner of a flower shop in Tan Dinh Market, says.
"It is an unspoken language that you have to learn for sending the right message.
"If a ribbon is included with the flowers and is brightly coloured, it means congratulations, but if the ribbon is dark it means sharing."
Some people like Anh started by arranging flowers as a hobby before become professional.
To be successful at floral arrangement one must possess patience, creativity, and passion, Anh, who has been in the field for seven years, says.
"Customers come to my shop to look around. Some of them spend money, others leave.
"As for those who leave, I know it was me not my flowers that failed to attract them." — VNS