|Taekwondo martial artist Châu Tuyết Vân works as a medical assistant in Gò Vấp District, HCM City. The world champion hopes her help will be useful amid the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Châu Tuyết Vân|
It is 4am. Millions of people are sleeping in HCM City.
But on one side of the city, coaches and athletes of HCM City's Sport Training Centre are perspiring from hard work, with their T-shirts covered in dust. They are busy with activities such as preparing vegetables and fruit to support people in need in quarantine.
|Coaches and athletes of HCM City's Sport Training Centre unpack and then deliver vegetables and fruits to people in need around the city. Photo courtesy of Đoàn Công Tuấn|
HCM City has been a national hotspot of the coronavirus for weeks. Currently thousands of positive cases are announced every day, and the city has been under lockdown since July 9.
"Dozens of tonnes of vegetables are coming here from cities and provinces. They are a gift of sponsors to us during these difficult days," said Đoàn Công Tuấn, coach for the tug of war. He is certainly in a war at the moment.
"We are here to help receive the food, divide them into portions and deliver to privileged and poor people. We have to work early in the morning to bring these fresh and green gifts to them in time," he said.
After receiving 18 tonnes of vegetables from Đà Lạt, they continue packing more than 30 tonnes of squash, marrow and peanuts, which travelled through the night to the city.
After the vegetable deliveries, they all move to the Minh Đức Secondary School in District 1 to clean the campus, which is a quarantine area for F0 patients.
"Sometime we are really exhausted but encourage each other to try harder for the day that our city clears of COVID-19. That dream helps us to continue with his meaningful work," Tuấn said.
A little way from Tuấn's place, his athlete Trần Gia Luật also has no time to rest. He is busy all the time, receiving and guiding people in District 7's Tân Quy and Tân Thuận Đông communes who are coming to have tests.
While many people help by staying and training at home under the social distancing rule, Luật converts his unexpected rest into volunteering
The three-time national champion is also student of the Phạm Ngọc Thạch University of Medicine. Following a call of the university's directorate, Luật registered to join the city campaign to resist the deadly disease outbreak.
|National champion of tug of war Trần Gia Luật (centre) and his team seen in a rare moment of break when they are helping communities to fight the COVID-19. Photo of Trần Gia Luật|
Together with classmates, he takes part in importing data and taking samples for testing.
He also helps people to check their temperatures, declare their health status online and reminds them to follow the healthcare regulations.
"It is hot today and will heavily rain tomorrow but it cannot stop us from working. We have to use all of our ability to complete work here on time. People in other quarantine areas are waiting for us," said Luật.
"It is really meaningful work. I am happy contributing my energy to the campaign when the country needs me. We are working with a joyful mind and positive spirit. Sometimes, we are nervous when waiting for results, and then it is great to know they are okay. They are like our family members and we all yell 'negativeee!' and laugh out loud."
Support whatever and whenever
It is 11.30am. Under the strong heat of the sun, taekwondo martial artist Châu Tuyết Vân keeps working hard as a medical assistant.
|Martial artist Châu Tuyết Vân shares vegetables with people in need. Photo courtesy of Châu Tuyết Vân|
In the outbreak period, all sport activities have been paused. Vân, apart from training herself, has taken part in a programme that provides taekwondo training and English courses. In her rest time, she takes off her uniform to join the COVID fight.
In Gò Vấp District, Vân puts on a protective gown, face mask and shield, gloves, shoes and head covers. She helps answer people's inquiry and instructs them in steps to be tested. She supports medical people to check temperatures, take samples, and clean the area when needed.
After Gò Vấp, she rushes to Thạnh Lộc Commune in District 12 for the same job before going to wholesale markets to deliver fresh produce to people in need.
"Sometime, people do not understand our job. They refused to do the health declaration and shout at us. We have to persuade them a lot and even force them to declare,” said Vân
"But it is just several cases. Otherwise, people love us for what we are doing. They share food and drink with us, so sweet! Their love releases our tiredness and readiness to work harder."
Due the pandemic, volunteering activities can be held anytime. Vân and her team must be ready even if it is early morning or midnight.
"It is a pandemic which is happening through the nation. Volunteers are really important to help the task force. We are athletes but also members of the community. We not only focus on training but also participate in social activities. It is a good way to perfect my personality,” said Vân.
"I know that it is not easy job, and it could put me in dangerous situation but I really want to help. Supporting people brings happiness for me and people who we help. It is my way to strengthen my country."
|Goalkeeper Bùi Tiến Dũng (left) works at the Thủ Đức City Hospital. Photo courtesy of Bùi Tiến Dũng|
Recognising the importance of volunteering, former national team goalkeeper Bùi Tiến Dũng also wants to help.
The 2018 Asian U23 championship silver holder supports doctors at Thủ Đức City Hospital.
“The more I go through the more I see people's love and care for each other. Medical workers, police and many others are working hard to fight COVID-19. I believe that to live is to share. You can share whatever you have -- money, energy, love, sympathy and understanding," said Dũng.
"I want to quietly support them, heroes in the frontline against this pandemic. I wish all of them strong and good health."
HCM City FC's Dũng is currently resting as the national football premier league can only return next February.
He is member of the 'We Love Sài Gòn' charity group. With about 100 members including many footballers such as defender Đoàn Văn Hậu and striker Hà Đức Chinh, the group has given away 1,000 meals to poor people, doctors and nurse every day since it started months ago.
Earlier, Dũng and his agent Nguyễn Đắc Văn presented microwaves, high flow nasal devices, protective kits and food to field hospitals around the city.
Dũng lost his place in HCM City FC's first team because of his poor performance, but has set a target of taking his place back when the national leagues come back, and to wins head coach Park Hang-seo's belief in him for a slot in a national team that will have many international challenges in 2022.
He is one of the football stars, such as Trần Hữu Đông Triều and Nguyễn Trọng Hoàng, among many athletes supporting the country with whatever they have and whenever they can. VNS