Viet Nam News
by Ngọc Diệp
HCM CITY — Every Wednesday and Friday morning, a group of local policemen offer free breakfast to disadvantaged patients at Thủ Đức District Hospital in HCM City.
Lieut Col Nguyễn Văn Tài, head of the police department in the district’s Tam Phú Ward, was responsible for setting up the weekly service.
“When I visited my relatives who were treated at the hospital, I realised that many poor patients have to struggle under difficult circumstances,” he said.
When he presented his idea to his colleagues, they all quickly agreed to start the charity porridge pot in July 2016.
“I thought that meat porridge with vegetables could improve their diet and health at the hospital,” Tai said.
In the beginning, the group did not have enough funds and could only offer about 400 plastic cups of porridge each Friday morning, Tài said.
“We contribute a part of our own monthly salary to pay for the food,” he said.
The hospital breakfast service has been one of the police officers’ regular charity activities for nearly three years, according to Nguyễn Hoàng Long, an official from Tam Phú Ward Police.
Then policemen’s families and friends also lend a helping hand, he added.
Trần Trí Hiệp, a security guard in Tam Phú Ward, who works as a volunteer cook, said: “I now have an extra duty in my daily routine: cooking up hot meals for patients at the local hospital.”
Because of more recent donations, the group has been able to offer free breakfasts on additional days since the beginning of last year.
Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, policemen, after getting off work, buy ingredients, wash rice, and cook the meals at Hiệp’s home.
“The officers work as a team to have a 100-litre pot of porridge ready by 5am on next day,” he said.
At four every morning, policemen on duty begin their first job of the day by preparing a big pot of porridge to take to the local hospital.
Around 5:30am, the pot of porridge is taken to the hospital.
“About 500 pots of porridge are eaten by the needy. That makes us very happy,” Long said.
For the rest of the porridge, the police visit hospital rooms and ask patients if they want something to eat.
Nguyễn Văn Triền, 38, a relative of a patient from Bình Dương Province, said he was impressed by the local policemen who not only ensure safety but are also dedicated to serving local people.
“The hot porridge from green beans, pumpkin, carrots, and lean meat is delicious,” he said.
Bùi Thị Xuân, 72 years old, from Tam Phú Ward, said disadvantaged patients at Thủ Đức District Hospital are happy to receive the meal from the local policemen.
“It really makes me feel better and warms up my heart,” she said.
Local residents and the hospital’s management have applauded the charity work of the local police .
“People here know the group of policemen who visit the hospital in the early morning to offer meals for poor patients,” said Bùi Quốc Dũng, 42, a security guard at the hospital.
Though other groups offer charity meals to patients, the friendly nature of the Tam Phú Police group is especially appreciated.
“I feel proud of the local policemen in uniforms carrying big pots of porridge to the hospital in the early morning,” Nguyễn Thị Thảo Thúy, a local resident, said.
The police group have attracted more donations from individuals and private organisations around the country and overseas.
Even former patients who received pots of porridge have contributed and helped spread the word about their work, according to Tài.
“We need more funds to continue our work and provide meals to patients every day, not only on two days a week,” he said.
The Tam Phú Ward Police have also launched a monthly charity programme, using donations from the community to buy gifts for poor households. — VNS