A patient's relative shows the meal ticket at the canteen of Buôn Ma Thuột General Hospital. — Photo danviet.vn
ĐẮK LẮK — Thousands of free lunches have been provided for poor, underprivileged patients at 14 hospitals in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk, inspired by the story of two cups of coffee – “One On The Wall” – set in Venice, Italy.
Y Tó and his wife from Yang Keh Village in Krông Bông District are some of the dialysis patients who have become beneficiaries.
He holds his wife’s hand while they enjoy a free lunch together in the canteen at Buôn Ma Thuột General Hospital.
The couple are given meal tickets that allow them to choose hot plates of rice mixed with the vegetables and meat.
His wife visits the hospital three times a week for dialysis treatment. Tó said they always ate their lunch at the canteen thanks to the meal tickets.
“The meal is good and my wife likes it,” he said.
It is estimated that hundreds of people like Tó and his wife have eaten lunch for free at the hospital's canteen since September 2018 as a part of a programme themed Đĩa Cơm Trên Tường (Rice Plate On The wall) Buôn Ma Thuột.
The programme was started in September 2016 by Phạm Hoà Anh, a doctor at Thiện Hạnh General Hospital, Dân Việt (Vietnamese People) online newspaper reported.
It then spread to 14 hospitals around the province, including Buôn Ma Thuột General Hospital.
Head nurse Trần Thị Quế said they often distribute 800 meal tickets per month.
“Most of them are for patients on dialysis treatment which is expensive, so the free meals help to reduce the financial burden," she said.
Anh said he had the idea of doing something for poor and underprivileged patients several years ago after he heard that many of them, mostly from minority ethnic groups, often left the hospital while they were still ill because they did not have the money to cover meals, even though their medical expenses were covered by health insurance.
I felt really sad and decided to do something, Anh said.
At first, he and his four colleagues donated VNĐ1 million (US$43) each to buy 300 meals for patients at his hospital.
Not longer after, Anh and his colleagues decided to call on other kind-hearted people in the province to help expand the programme.
As a result, more than 13,000 free meal tickets in 14 hospitals are handed out to patients and their relatives each month now.
The programme also hired an independent accountant based in HCM City to check its expenditure. It ensured the transparency of the programme to encourage people to give more, Anh said.
“One On The Wall” in Venice tells the story that visitors who come to enjoy a drink do not forget to pay a bit extra to support the effort of the coffee shop's owner to serve a cup of coffee for free for any in need. — VNS