|Nhung has so far taken about 20 patients back home covering a total distance of more than 6,000km. — Photo Vietnamnet.vn
HÀ NỘI — Lê Thị Nhung, 29, drove a car for 32 hours covering a distance of 1,200km to take poor patients back to their homes.
Driving a car for a long distance can be a challenge for professional drivers, let alone an amateur like Nhung.
But she made it.
Nhung is a member of a volunteer group that offers a free car service to take patients treated in Hà Nội back to their hometowns.
With a love of driving and willingness to help patients, Nhung, who lives in northern Bắc Ninh Province where she runs a coffee shop, applied to join the group last year and was accepted.
Since then she has taken about 20 patients back home covering a total distance of over 6,000km.
Her longest trip was 1,200km made on July 21 when she took a mother and a daughter from Việt Nam-Cuba Hospital in Hà Nội to Mường Tè District, in the northern province of Lai Châu.
This was also her most memorable trip, not only because of the difficult roads, but also because of a tragic incident on the way.
“The mother and the daughter had car sickness. But they cannot speak the Kinh language, so they just hugged each other and almost did not communicate with anyone.
“When going through a COVID checkpoint, the policemen thought that I was kidnapping them. I had to explain and give them documents to prove what was happening. After knowing that I was taking the patients home, they allowed me to go through,” Nhung told vietnamnet.vn
|Nhung (right) drives 1,200km to take a mother and her daughter from Hà Nội to their hometown in Mường Tè District, in the northern mountainous province of Lai Châu. — Photo Vietnamnet.vn
Nhung’s younger brother often offers to go with her on long trips. But she is also more than ready to drive alone.
One night, when Nhung was about to go to sleep, she received a call from the voluntary group founder saying that there was a mother and a daughter stranded in Hà Nội that wanted to go back home in the northern province of Sơn La.
Nhung did not hesitate and went to pick them up immediately.
As Hà Nội is applying social distancing measures, coaches and taxis are not allowed to operate and personal vehicles cannot enter the city. Nhung’s group had to make a plan to divide their trip to Sơn La into smaller trips and transfer the patients at checkpoints between cities and provinces.
At 4am on August 8, Nhung drove from Bắc Ninh Province to pick up the mother and the daughter at a checkpoint near Hà Nội on National Highway 1B.
As she could not enter the capital city, she had to take an alternative route to Phú Thọ, through Hòa Bình. When they reached Sơn La, the mother and the daughter were transferred to another car to complete their journey.
“During the social distancing period, members living outside Hà Nội like me have to work harder to support members in the capital city who can not leave. The group has strictly followed pandemic protocols and takes COVID tests regularly,” Nhung said.
Each trip is a memorable experience.
Nhung also recalls a memorable experience driving to Lào Cai on New Year's Eve this year.
She left home on December 31 to take patients to Si Ma Cai District and came back to her house in Bắc Ninh at 8am the next morning.
“The thankfulness and smile of the family were the greatest New Year present to me,” she said.
“By chance this job has given me a lot of experience. I have met and helped many people. I also witnessed with my own eyes the extreme hardships and misfortunes that I had only seen in movies before.”
Aside from taking patients back home, Nhung has also donated money to help disadvantaged patients.
“I want to call for help from kind-hearted drivers to support disadvantaged passengers not only during the trip but also after,” Nhung said. — VNS