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Vietnam

Over the moon amid a pandemic in Vietnam

Celebrating the Mid-autumn Festival in a field hospital will forever be an unforgettable memory

Sister Therese Nguyen Vui

Sister Therese Nguyen Vui

Published: September 24, 2021 09:13 AM GMT

Updated: September 24, 2021 09:22 AM GMT

Over the moon amid a pandemic in Vietnam

Religious volunteers perform a lion dance in the rain as part of this year’s Mid-autumn Festival in a hospital’s yard in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)

This year’s Mid-autumn Festival fell on Sept. 21 in Vietnam. Many children dreadfully missed the traditional festival as their parents could not go out to buy them lanterns, toys, moon cakes and other festive goodies.

There were no lion dances and sounds of drums on bustling streets. The Covid-19 pandemic deprived children of their biggest annual festival.

Although the contagion is still complicated, most children eagerly looked forward to celebrating the festival with loved ones in the bright moonlit night.

On the way home from work, I heard traditional, sweet melodies resounding from small houses. They really warmed people's hearts during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this is a momentous occasion for religious volunteers to celebrate the autumn festival with child and adult patients at field hospitals for Covid-19 victims. There were no activities to hold feasts, the lead procession of lanterns or give cultural performance, but we tried to organize a warm Mid-autumn Festival.

To make patients happy, we used available materials such as paper, cans and cardboard boxes to make special lanterns and toys for children. Then, we danced together with the beautiful familiar melodies of the full moon festival.

Those lanterns are not as bright and splendid as the ones on sale in previous years, but they flashed bright beatific smiles on patients' faces

Enjoying a festival right in the field hospital will forever be an unforgettable memory for patients, so we called this event "Lovely Mid-autumn Festival — Together with the patient overcome the pandemic."

In full protective gear, we volunteers brought cakes and homemade lanterns to all patients. Those lanterns are not as bright and splendid as the ones on sale in previous years, but they flashed bright beatific smiles on patients' faces. They were in sheer ecstasy over the gifts.

An adult patient shed emotional tears saying: "I remember the last Mid-autumn Festival when I took my children to buy gifts, cakes and even lanterns on streets. At that time there was no pandemic. They enjoyed the public festival at a cultural center for children immensely. Now they must have missed it!"

Hearing that, burning tears brimmed over and fell on my cheeks.

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Suddenly, loud sounds from the drums and lion dances broke the silence of the hospital. In the hospital's yard, other volunteers performed hilarious lion dances entertaining patients. The hospital windows were open so that patients could hear the sounds of the festival and no longer felt alone.

Since they wanted to bring wonderful joy to patients, volunteers cheerfully sang lion dance tunes, forgetting it was raining. How lovely and beautiful are they! Their beauty is in their hearts and souls, not their appearance.

Indeed, with loving souls, religious volunteers will always know how to make the tasteless things attractive enough to decorate their lives with extraordinary new features. For those who know how to love, what people consider trivial and repetitious will contain great inspirations that no one can understand.

People will always wonder how people with open hearts can find creative inspiration in such ordinary and mundane things. The reasonable answer is love. They seem to have learned from Jesus the lesson of "loving others as yourself" and then spread that love to others.

This is the first time the hospital has had an eventful day. The stage is the hospital's compound and interested spectators are Covid-19 patients who are isolated and watch through the windows. The songs are verses with the theme of the Mid-autumn Festival and the moon. The singers and musicians all are in protective gear but perform at their best.

A patient confided: "It is great fun to be in this isolated center. I am not only well cared for but celebrate the traditional festival, given cakes, lanterns, and cultural performances. I should have entered this place sooner!" All people in the room burst into loud laughter.

Although we know that the fight against the rampaging coronavirus is still arduous, we all stand side by side to deal with it 

For elderly patients, this is probably the most emotional reunion in their lives because doctors, nurses and volunteers become their relatives. They themselves enjoy a genuine intimacy with others in this special house.

It is indeed an exceptional Mid-autumn Festival for both medical staff and volunteers, who are suffering from a lack of many things but are very much in human love.

Although we know that the fight against the rampaging coronavirus is still arduous, we all stand side by side to deal with it so that next year's Mid-autumn Festival will be warmer and more joyful.

We hope that these small but practical activities during this festival will help our patients quickly recover from their illnesses and confidently deal with difficulties caused by the pandemic.

Sister Teresa Nguyen Vui is a member of the Maids of Jesus Priest congregation in Vietnam. This article was summarized and translated by a UCA News reporter from a Vietnamese article published on tgpsaigon.net here. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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