|Free meals given to patients in the northern province of Bắc Giang. Photo baobacgiang.vn|
BẮC GIANG Through a charity kitchen model, the grass-roots Red Cross in Bắc Giang Province has been helping the sick and warming their hearts during hardship.
That simple action has spread the value of love and optimism in life to poor patients.
Nguyễn Thị Ánh, Deputy Head of the Nursing - Nutrition Department of the Bắc Giang Province's Rehabilitation Hospital, said: "Every day at 9am, groups of volunteers start the work of distributing porridge."
Ánh said volunteers usually arrive about half an hour early to prepare everything.
The pots of porridge are transported to the hospital right after they are cooked so the recipients can enjoy hot and delicious bowls.
As a seven-seat car arrives at the hospital gate, four volunteers of Trúc Lâm Phượng Hoàng Club would bring down three big pots of hot porridge.
Within 30 minutes, more than 200 bowls of porridge are provided to poor patients undergoing long-term treatment at the hospital.
"Love Kitchen" was launched in 2017. Currently, with 20 members, the organisation operates in two areas. It provides free porridge twice a month to patients at two hospitals: Bắc Giang Rehabilitation Hospital and Bắc Giang General Hospital, with a total of 700 servings at a time.
Club members have called on kind-hearted individuals and groups to donate rice, meat, vegetable, and firewood.
The members alternately cook porridge at home twice a week and ship it to the hospital.
Hoàng Hải Minh, 60, the club's president, said: "Cooking food for the sick, so we take care of each pot of porridge very carefully.
"All food is purchased at a reputable store, ensuring freshness."
"At 4am, everyone gets up to prepare rice, go to the market to buy fresh meat, and carefully grind it.
We finish cooking at 8am, and transfer pots of hot porridge to the hospital."
"But everyone enthusiastically participates, and a few couples also arrange their own affairs to take care of good deeds."
Purple Rose Club, with 100 members, has been accompanied by the charity movement of the provincial Red Cross.
The club has granted gifts to needy families and poor children and supported building charity houses.
In addition, the club has mobilised funds to maintain the "Love Meal" at hospitals.
Nguyễn Thị Sử, 58, an active member of the club, said: "Sick people are suffering. When poor people have to go to the hospital, their suffering is even more.
Besides worrying about hospital fees and medicine, they have to save every penny on food, so we choose to share difficulties with them this way."
At the canteen of Lục Ngạn District Health Centre, from early morning, club members started picking vegetables and preparing food.
These women were working and talking, and more than 100 servings of rice and soup were finished and neatly packed into trolleys to the patients' beds.
Trần Đình Hiếu, Head of the Health Care - Blood Donation group at the provincial Red Cross, said that the material value of each meal was small, but it carried a meaning of humanity in "sharing of love in the community."
"Contributing a part of a society effort, sharing difficulties for the less fortunate is the motivation for volunteers to do their best to mobilise financial and human resources to maintain the model," Hiếu said.
"With that humanistic meaning, it is hoped that the charity kitchen will have more support from benevolent hearts to help the kitchen always spread, with the quantity and quality of meals to be improved."
Receiving a bowl of hot porridge, Nguyễn Thị Hân, 63, at Khám Lạng Commune, Lục Nam District, said: "My husband had a stroke and has been treated for more than two months at the provincial Rehabilitation Hospital. Unfortunately, my children are far away, and I have to stay at the hospital to care for my husband."
"Every meal, I receive a bowl of delicious porridge. Everybody is very touched because strangers are willing to share with me in difficult times."
Currently, the volunteer clubs under the provincial Red Cross are operating 28 models of "Humanitarian porridge pot" and "Love Meal" at all provincial hospitals and some district health centres.
On average, the kitchens donate tens of thousands of servings of porridge and rice to disadvantaged patients every month. VNS