Viet Nam News
The news of the deaths of three students from the Hanoi-based Foreign Trade University during a volunteer trip to a mountainous district of the northern province of Quảng Ninh in early July has made people across the country feel sad. They were so young and had many ambitions yet to fulfil.
The three students drowned while they were crossing a flooded stream on their way back to their temporary accommodation.
The three students belonged to a group of 21 students who were on a volunteer trip to the area.
"This trip is part of our annual Green Summer Campaign in which we’ve sent 19 groups to many disadvantaged and remote areas in the north to help local people with various work, including teaching children, cleaning-up the environment and constructing some rural projects," said Nguyễn Văn Triệu, secretary the university’s Youth Union.
The accident prompted the need to review some issues relating to the Green Summer Campaign which was organised across the country to promote the voluntary spirit among students and young people in the city.
Although the accident was rare, it emphasised the need to equip volunteers with survival skills to protect themselves.
Trần Anh Tuấn, Hà Nôi Youth Union deputy secretary said the volunteer summer campaign often took place in July and August – the rainy season. During this period, natural disasters like heavy rains, flash floods and landslides sometimes occured. In addition, volunteers often worked in remote and underprivileged areas. Thus, they might face some risks on the trips.
Tuấn said volunteers were carefully chosen and undergo training before taking part in the summer campaigns.
Nguyễn Thu Huyền, who has nearly 20 years experience in charity work, said volunteers participating in the work might have to cope with dangers like traffic accidents and climate change, so they must have health insurance.
The volunteer group’s leader had to foresee possible risks which could occur during the trip to minimise accidents, she said.
“The most important principle is that every volunteer should not separate themselves from the group because they are not familiar with the local terrain and can’t predict possible dangers,” Huyền told Nông Thôn Ngày Nay (Countryside Today) newspaper.
Nguyễn Minh Tâm, a student from Hà Nội University, said the summer volunteer campaign needed to be professionally organised so as to avoid being a mere entertainment for students.
"Some students join the work to have the opportunity to meet new friends and learn about new places and they forget about their responsibility to society," he said.
“Many people said volunteer work should undertake a ‘big’ job, but in my opinion, it can take root from a simple one.”
As people often say, “Make someone happy, and then you’ll be happy too.”
Volunteers can participate in various activities such as anti-illiteracy work, improving the environment, and building “gratitude” houses for poor and disadvantaged residents in far-flung areas.
We can also help underprivileged people who are present in any corner on the world.
Volunteers can be seen in many places across the country these days. They help students to prepare for their national high school exams and direct traffic in cities.
Joining a volunteer campaign brings a lot of benefits to students as it creates opportunities for union members to apply their knowledge and experience in real life.
“Participating in the campaign helped me become more mature, independent and feel the meaning of life,” said Nguyễn Khánh Linh, a student from Hà Nội National University.
Nguyễn Hoài Nam, a student from Hà Nội Architecture University, said joining the Green Summer Campaign helped them understand their responsibility to the community.
“Volunteers will have the opportunity to learn lessons about human compassion and social affairs as well as teamwork skills,” he said.
Following the deaths of the three students from the Foreign Trade University, many people feared that the volunteer campaign would be affected as the university had asked other volunteer groups to temporarily halt operations.
However, Vũ Minh Lý, director of the National Volunteer Centre, said volunteer groups from other universities and colleges would continue their work but must prioritise safety.
The Secretariat of the Hồ Chí Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee has asked local youth unions to review volunteer groups operating in their localities. Youth unions were urged to closely supervise volunteer’s activities and raise their awareness of the need to follow regulations during the charity trips as well as to ensure their safety, he said.
Let’s hope that the latest accident will not deter young people from taking part in community activities. As director of the National Volunteer Centre, Ly said, “Participating in the summer volunteer campaign will teach students invaluable lessons that no schools or universities can bring about.” -- VNS