Student volunteer finds meaning as part of the nation’s force against the pandemic

January 13, 2022 - 09:10

The trip to HCM City not only put the theory they learned at school to the test, but also taught them social knowledge, teamwork, and most importantly, the warm support of the locals.

Vũ Tiến Anh (right) and his teammate. — Photo courtesy of Vũ Tiến Anh

HÀ NỘI — For Vũ Tiến Anh, one among thousands of medical students who volunteered in the southern epicentre of the pandemic last year, 2021 was a year of relentless efforts and courage to fight the outbreak. 

Emotions rushed back as he recalled his decision: “The call for student volunteers came as the COVID-19 situation in Hà Nội was quite serious.”

Despite his initial hesitation, Tiến Anh signed up for the work. 

“My heart was beating so fast as I submitted my form. It was only after I finished my registration that I called my parents,” as they did not support this decision at first, he told Tin tức (News) online newspaper.

Tiến Anh was not the only volunteer who felt anxious. Nevertheless, the Hà Nội Medical University student even managed to get four of his roommates to join him. 

For the 23-year-old, HCM City had always been known for its dynamic and vibrant atmosphere. 

“But as we landed at the airport, the air was heavy as the whole city was under lockdown. We arrived at dusk, and that coupled with the light rain made all our hearts sink,” said Tiến Anh.

However, everyone was soon carried away with the fight against the pandemic. The task of their group was to detect and treat COVID-19 patients at home.

Prior to this experience, Tiến Anh once participated in the ‘Companion Physicians’ network, where he helped out by calling COVID patients for check-ups and guiding them to take care of their own health, as well as providing information about pandemic prevention and control.

Yet in HCM City, Tiến Anh and his team had to protect themselves from both COVID-19 and the dengue fever. While several members got infected with dengue, they all returned to their volunteer work after treatment.

Trying to overcome the mental challenges and encourage his teammates, Tiến Anh said it was their leader Tạ Đăng Quang that motivated him the most.

"To me, Quang was not only a teacher, but also an elder brother who wholeheartedly took care of us. Quang taught us a lot when we were working in the fight against the pandemic," said Tiến Anh.

Quang believed that as medical workers, if it is not them who join this fight, then who? And he spread this spirit to the young students.

"What he said made me a lot more confident as I signed up as a volunteer. From day one, he already divided our living quarters to minimise contact among the group and ensure safety.

"He was very strict, but always took care of us. He was also a major source of encouragement, who always stepped forward and supported all he could so that we, volunteer students, could be assured and focus on our work," said Tiến Anh.

Their trip to HCM City not only put the theory they learned at school to the test, but also taught them social knowledge, teamwork, and most importantly, the warm support of the locals.

All the basic necessities for the volunteers were provided for. By the end of their trip, they returned these items, which will then be sent out to support another team.

One of the unforgettable memories might be the Mid-Autumn Festival when they prepared lanterns, mooncakes and sweets to celebrate with the disadvantaged children in the area.

The volunteers prepared gifts for the children for the Mid-Autumn Festival. — Photo courtesy of Vũ Tiến Anh

As the 'party' went on, Tiến Anh and his teammates received a surprise gift from the Student Communication Team of Hà Nội Medical University. 

"It was a video clip filled with wishes from all our families and friends… I was incredibly touched to see the video, it was a meaningful gift not only for me but the others who were away from home for the first time. It made us even more reassured to continue our work," said Tiến Anh.

He found meaning when contributing to the pandemic prevention and control of the whole country. Working in a modest position, but step by step he understood the challenges and great responsibilities of the medical worker. 

Above all, amid hardships and tragedy, what remains with student volunteers like Tiến Anh is the kindness of the people, the companionship of their teammates and the sound home front of their university  – the sources of support for these young students to charge forward on their chosen path. — VNS