Updated: July 28, 2021 02:56 PM GMT
Volunteers care for Covid-19 patients at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)
Nuns and brothers from Catholic and Buddhist groups in Ho Chi Minh City left our convents and monasteries on July 22 to meet Covid-19 patients at public hospitals. This is an invaluable experience of health care.
We are not doctors and nurses who have practical experience in treating patients but volunteers who go where there are lots of seriously ill patients. We are highly susceptible to infection. It's not that we do not fear death or infection but we set off in response to God's sobbing voice in our hearts: Go out and bring love to the sick and infirm. Yes, we are irrevocably committed to that call.
Our group goes to hospital treatment wards with nothing but God and a loving heart. We reach out to our patients with a tender heart and open arms in order to care for them, and to dull their physical and mental pain as well.
All patients hope to be cured and return home. They greatly desire to breathe fresh air but it's not easy for them right now. Only after four days of service, we have had to witness the departure of some patients. We felt so scared and worried because they immediately became surprisingly weak and stopped breathing just a short while after we found them fine.
The doctors made a last-ditch attempt to save them but failed. Seeing those patients approach death without their blood relatives by their side, I had a horrible sinking feeling. I silently prayed, asking for the grace of a good death for them so that they could depart this life peacefully.
The doctors and nurses are extremely thorough and conscientious, but they are exhausted from their daily work on account of the dramatic increase in the number of patients and infections. However, with their professional conscience, they still immerse themselves in their duties after a few hours of rest.
We keep in mind that through our continuing presence, thorough service and tender care they can see the God of Mercy present in us and among them
They also have their own families and want to go home to their spouses and children, but at this moment they cannot afford to go home. A doctor confided to me that there are days when he leaves without knowing the date of return, but he deliberately has to suppress nostalgia for his family and loved ones for the survival of patients. We wish everyone to be aware of strictly taking preventative measures to help one another contain the contagion. Please love yourselves and health workers.
Patients never realize we are nuns as we are in full protective gear. Even if we tell them who we are, they will not know who nuns are, or who God is, since they are thoroughly exhausted and on ventilators. We do not talk with them about God’s love but we keep in mind that through our continuing presence, thorough service and tender care they can see the God of Mercy present in us and among them.
We believe that God knows everything. He knows what they and we need. Do not be afraid! We always have the Lord to be with us as he said: "My grace is sufficient for you." (2 Cor. 12:9)
We are really delighted, in addition to God's grace, to have numerous people who care and pray for us. In his handwritten letter to us, Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang said: "Where there are men and women religious, there is plenty of joy."
Even though the work, working time and protective gear do not make us feel comfortable, they could not take away our passionate enthusiasm and deliberate intentions. When taking off the protective gear but leaving the face masks, we always see radiant smiles in one another's eyes and charitable gestures through our service. Although we are from different religions and various congregations, we are in the same boat and burning with fanatical zeal to bring human love and life back to Covid-19 patients. This joy will always be kept constant and continue.
The original Vietnamese version of this story was published on tgpsaigon.net here.