Patients' relatives at the charity kitchen in Vĩnh Thuận District health centre receive their meals. — VNA/VNS Photo Lê Sen
KIÊN GIANG — It's morning at a health centre in Kiên Giang Province's Vĩnh Thuận District, and people are busy in the kitchen preparing rice and vegetables in near-industrial quantities.
At 11am, they put on their gloves and take the food to the canteen window to serve.
It is a job they do every day to provide free meals for the poor at Vĩnh Thuận District health centre.
Đào Văn Hùng, who heads up the charity kitchen at the centre, and his team of volunteers are busy serving meals every day.
Hùng said he had planned to stay there to get the kitchen running smoothly in the first few days, and then returned to his hometown in Hòa Chánh Commune, U Minh Thượng District, to work on the farm.
“I volunteered to stay here because I saw so many poor patients, many of whom live in remote areas,” Hùng said.
Every morning, Hùng and his members serve white porridge and boiling water, followed by lunch and dinner.
“People here are motivated by love and benevolence,” Hùng said.
The charity kitchen was set up in July 2005, aiming to share and help patients who were undergoing treatment at the centre.
Hà Văn Nhân, the centre's director, said they had faced many difficulties in the first year, especially sourcing financial support.
"I understand the various hardships caused by poverty, especially for those suffering from disease,” Nhân said.
He encouraged local philanthropists to set up a kitchen at his health centre that could supply free meals for people in need.
Nhân and the volunteers hold a monthly meeting to talk about budgets and spending, and then make a plan for the following months.
Despite many difficulties, the kitchen has worked hard to maintain its efforts to help the poor.
To start, only a few people volunteered to help in the kitchen, but registrations for the charity work have increased every year.
Some of them are patients who were treated at the centre or their family members, according to Nhân.
There are 56 volunteers divided into six groups who regularly work at the kitchen, and another 264 members who support them.
Many people offer money, rice and other food.
Three hundred vegetarian meals are served every day.
"Our activities are based on donations," said Hùng, adding that they offered different healthy meals each day containing protein, starch and vegetables.
Although the meals are vegetarian the volunteer cooks always try to maintain the kitchen's standards and improve the quality of meals, ensuring enough nutrients, Nhân said.
"We are happy to do this because we are doing something for people in need, especially poor patients,” Hùng said.
A patient named Hai said: “It's helped me save a lot of money with three meals and drinks every day. I really appreciate their charity work and hope I can help after I recover.”
Vĩnh Thuận District health centre has also called for individuals and organisation to support a free ambulance service.
Patients sometimes arrive at medical facilities when it's already too late because they cannot afford ambulance services or the ambulances have difficulties reaching them, the centre's director said.
The volunteer ambulance drivers transported more than 130 patients in 2019. — VNS