Updated: September 28, 2021 03:58 AM GMT
Catholics provide free food for frontline forces and Covid-19 victims in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)
These days, it is pouring down with rain in Saigon (the popular name of Ho Chi Minh City) every evening, but heavy rain cannot erase the unutterable sadness and acute anxiety that surround a city recording 5,000 new Covid-19 infections and nearly 200 deaths per day.
Only six months ago, many people thought it would take a long time for the pandemic to hit their places, but now the contagion is creeping into almost every corner of Vietnam’s commercial hub.
The tiny virus not only wanders through narrow alleys but also coldly knocks on the doors of many families and generations.
Saigon has been desperately ill for the last four months. All its streets, although they are brightly lit, are strangely quiet because of the lack of people and the absence of traffic.
Many of Saigon's popular characters also have temporarily disappeared. There are no more loud sounds coming from vendors' loudspeakers at night, no more traffic jams at rush hour, no more loud noises from vehicle horns in streets, and no more crowds jostling in shopping centers, pedestrian streets and other entertainment venues.
These days, people long for the traffic jams which made them bored out of their minds and crave to hear dogs barking or people talking loudly on the street.
They hide themselves behind trees, bus stops, under bridges and in shelters along murky canals. They suffer starvation and are hastily abandoned
Surely no one among us would have thought that the things that daily irritated us have now become things we want to return to our life. Those normal things carry within themselves a power that we have never realized. They show that humans are creatures living in a community and in need of one another.
Saigon has imposed strict social distancing measures to contain the rampaging coronavirus. Countless domestic migrant workers left the city for their homes in other provinces after they had struggled to eke out a living for many months.
But other people who have held out in the city for years and consider it their home have become unemployed or had their incomes reduced. They are in miserable conditions due to the pandemic.
They hide themselves behind trees, bus stops, under bridges and in shelters along murky canals. They suffer starvation and are hastily abandoned.
Many initiatives such as the rice ATM, oxygen ATM, zero dong minimarkets and other charitable activities have been implemented to support people in need. Despite the deadly pandemic, many people courageously take to the streets to tend to those absolutely worn out by living without food.
To have a peaceful life, we will not be able to avoid the necessary sacrifices. During painful times, what people need to give one another is not only bread and drinking water but also human love.
People do not necessarily have to care for and be good to those they know well. Only being fellow men and compatriots is enough to be loved without conditions, especially in these difficult days.
The tiny virus has penetrated deep into the community, giving rise to new infections day by day. Patients fight on their own and work with their loved ones to become stronger and more stable day by day.
Many are lucky enough to return home safely after days of medical treatment in field hospitals for Covid-19 patients. Others who have lived their last days in anxiety, fear and loneliness only return home in urns of ashes.
People in Saigon feel tired and stifled after many months of staying home. They are like toddlers taking the first steps of the new normal
Lately, people have cried a lot over anxiety, angst, great loss of life and separation.
We should not blame ourselves for not being able to meet others these days since many people have dropped dead.
We should not finish with others due to petty squabbles because a kilogram of rice to relieve our families' hunger may be from them.
We should not show anger towards our parents and loved ones because many children who have not yet understood life have become orphaned in the pandemic.
We should not curse those who take us to quarantine centers as one of their close relatives might have died from the virus elsewhere but they could not afford to return home to mourn them.
People in Saigon feel tired and stifled after many months of staying home. They are like toddlers taking the first steps of the new normal.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed people's daily routines and the community's lifestyles. This is not the time they all want in their lives, but it is certainly worth remembering as it brings to mind what they really need to cherish and helps them better understand the impermanence of life.
They should think about the things they have instead of the things they may no longer have or have never had. They should take deep breaths that bring life to both their bodies and minds.
We hope our city will quickly overcome the contagion and will continue to rise with the people who have steadfastly supported one another to survive the pandemic, used their own lives to share love and tried to live a kind new life with good hearts.
This article was summarized and translated by a UCA News reporter from a Vietnamese article published on dongten.net here.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.