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Vietnam

The most powerful weapon against Covid-19

The love of Christ gives religious volunteers the strength to serve patients

Sister Teresa Nguyen Vui

Sister Teresa Nguyen Vui

Published: August 16, 2021 06:47 AM GMT

Updated: August 16, 2021 07:02 AM GMT

The most powerful weapon against Covid-19

Exhausted healthcare givers take a rest at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)

Mum, when you read this message, I have been on the front line against the Covid-19 pandemic. I am terribly sorry because I did not dare to call you in advance. I feared that you would get so worried about me and not be able to sleep.

I remember in the past when I only had a slight fever, you stayed up all night sitting by me. The day I entered the convent, you cried all night without sleeping. I could not let you worry too much about me once more. Please set your mind at ease. I remain healthy and safe.

Working in this field hospital, I really sympathize with healthcare givers who have not gone home for more than four months. As the night falls, they cry silently for missing their families, elderly dads and mums, and children dreadfully. They are not weak but they have kind, tender hearts to sacrifice their own intense emotions for Covid-19 patients.

One of them confided to me: "You know, I have been away from home many times, but this time the nostalgia is really intense. I am just afraid that one day I will not be able to return to my wife and children if I test positive."

I love doctors and nurses because, more than anyone else, I understand that they are entering a real battle. If they just do something wrong or have their protective gear torn or opened, they will take high risks of the contagion.

You know, in the early days of my service, I also got increasingly anxious about several things. Firstly, I have no medical expertise and I must come in direct contact with patients, so I became seriously concerned about whether my health is safe. Secondly, I just had one vaccine the day before and I set off to work at the field hospital, and I did not know if the vaccine was effective. Some of the religious volunteers in my group have had Covid-positive test results, so I am nervous while waiting for my test results. When is it my turn?

Brief encounters with their loved relatives on phone screens during breaks are comfort and motivation to give them strength to fight the pandemic

I remain fearful but I think that if I am afraid I will waver in making sacrifice and commitment. I pray a lot. Finally, the love in me has defeated my fear. I have found peace and reached my prime goal to serve others, not to find safety for myself.

Moreover, my faith in God gives me more strength to bear witness to him no matter the circumstances. It is the image of the doctors and nurses that touches me deeply. A nurse called Ngan told me: "I am positively itching for moments to be with my family, sit watching TV with my dad, lie in my mum's arms talking about all kinds of things. Now, thinking about those things, I am terribly homesick to tears."

Giang, another nurse, confided: "The moment I see my husband and children on the phone, I am really thrilled in tears. I love my husband and children who work hard at home alone, so I always try to maintain my health to overcome the pandemic and return home."

Brief encounters with their loved relatives on phone screens during breaks are comfort and motivation to give them strength to fight the pandemic. While they are talking with me, I see their eyes are red, filled with tears.

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Perhaps their hearts ache because even though they are worried about their loved ones' health, they are not around to take care of them. They show all these feelings by writing on plastic chairs in the hospitals: “Mum, I want to go home,” or “When can I go home?”

You taught me that "no matter where you are and what you do, always think of others, and only then will you find joy and happiness, my dear." I distinctly remember your words and I also take my love of Christ to serve patients here.

Most patients lie almost motionless, dying in each breath, without loved relatives by their side. They entrust their lives to the care of the doctors and nurses who become utterly exhausted from patient overload. Therefore, we religious volunteers try to help alleviate some of the patients' pain.

My daily work includes cleaning patients' rooms, changing their diapers and sheets, feeding them and cleaning their bodies. Every time I wipe them, I see two lines of tears rolling down their cheeks.

During the social distancing periods, many people bewail that "I am so bored. I am so sad because I can't go out," while people in hospitals just yearn to go home.

Let's all thank God for being together at home. Mom, please tell my brothers and sisters that money, fame and jobs are not valuable, the important thing is to be in the best place — that is, family. People often wish the pandemic would pass quickly, but they fail to feel the simple joy of being with their families and loved ones. When we are far away from home, we feel quite nostalgic, and when we lose something, we appreciate what is left.

Awakened by the pandemic, people know that their wealth and fame are not equal to a peaceful place. That is why numerous people have traveled thousands of kilometers by motorbike, bicycle and even on foot from Vietnam's southern cities to go to their homes to avoid the outbreak and to find peace in their homes.

Now I understand the saying: “There is a place to return to, that is home. There are people to love, that is families. Having both is ecstasy.” Previously, on account of the hustle and bustle of life, many people forgot the sacred value of family.

I feel warm and moved by the fact that doctors hold one another's hands when they find a patient shows signs of getting better

The pandemic is an excellent opportunity to realize that family is a place where our loved ones follow our footsteps on the road of life, where there are people to whom we give all our love. One place to come back is family, but not all people can go home. Healthcare givers silently sacrifice their personal joy for the sake of their patients. They always hide themselves in tight protective gear, work in absolute isolation, only make eye contact, and look after patients in a hurry.

I feel warm and moved by the fact that doctors hold one another's hands when they find a patient shows signs of getting better. This place really becomes a human family filled with love, all just to regain the lives of patients.

Initially, most patients felt desperately worried and scared about public reproach and blame for their spreading the contagion even though they never did it intentionally. Doctors and volunteers comfort and encourage them to regain their spirit.

Doctors do not serve patients for thanks, but they do so with all their hearts. It is hard to describe all the hardships and worries on the faces of healthcare givers who take care of the sick round the clock.

I am told that many children no longer have daily meals their mothers prepare, listen to stories from their fathers every night, and are cared for by their parents when they are sick. They are deprived of the simple happiness which every child should be entitled to. Instead of playing freely, now they become more "mature," taking their parents' places to look after their siblings and housework. All for the sake of their parents keeping their minds on their service.

A doctor called his daughter: "Good child, try to obey your grandparents. I will buy you a big teddy bear when I come back."

On the other end of the line, there is an echo: "I miss you very much, I don't need a teddy bear, I just want you." I see the doctor quickly wipe tears from his eyes. More and more patients are admitted to the hospital and medical staff have to work all day and night.

I realize that the pandemic is complicated and challenging but is also an opportunity for me to love others more, to open my heart more

In their hearts, drivers and security guards also understand that at this crucial moment the task they are taking is a sacred duty to protect and take care of patients.

Mum, I experience many things from this voluntary service. I fully appreciate the moment I spend with my family. I understand that in war people need a lot of heavy weapons, but in this battle the most effective weapon is love.

I realize that the pandemic is complicated and challenging but is also an opportunity for me to love others more, to open my heart more. The disease persists. Many people are only concerned about the exhaustion of their finances and power, while other people willingly go into the midst of the pandemic as bright spots of hope for life.

They prepare and provide boxes of food and bunches of vegetables for people in need. It is not known how long they can run their services, but they are disciples of the Lord: LIVE to SHARE.

Your daughter is also God's disciple, chosen by God in a consecrated vocation. Therefore, on the one hand, I must live with trust and confidence in the circumstances. On the other hand, I must also share what I have with others. Mum, from the bottom of my heart, I am elated and find joy in serving the suffering limbs of Christ.

So, please set your mind at rest and do not worry about me.

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 hereThe 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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