In an interview granted to the People’s Army Newspaper, Non-commissioned Senior Captain Nguyen Van Hung, Deputy head of the Staff - Administration Team of the Logistics - Security Division under the Vietnamese Engineering Company Rotation 1 at the U.N. Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) sharing his feelings about his meaningful Tet away from home on the occasion of the lunar New Year 2023.

Non-commissioned Senior Captain Nguyen Van Hung

When joining the military, he was aware that he would regularly welcome Tet far from home to perform assigned tasks. For a soldier, safeguarding the Fatherland to ensure a happy and safe Tet for relatives and people is their happiness.

For 19 years since he joined the military, he has experienced Tet far from home many times. However, this time is memorable as he was on duty at the Vietnamese Engineering Company Rotation 1 in Abyei which is more than 10,000km from Vietnam. They all felt happy and touched during the special Tet.

He held that they all welcomed a cozy and meaningful Tet holiday in Abyei, because it is celebrated in the love among comrades and teammates. “Although we did not come back for family reunion during Tet, we were reunited with our comrades in a cozy atmosphere,” he added.

International friends making Chung cakes

Two months ago, the Vietnamese peacekeeping forces have made thorough preparation for the meaningful Tet. Troops who had chance to come back home for several days also brought ingredients and materials such as Dong leaves, molds for making Chung cakes, so as to prepare for Tet in Abyei.

The Vietnamese peacekeepers invited international friends and locals to join the Vietnamese traditional lunar New Year festival and traditional Tet foods, instructed them how to make Chung cakes, make spring rolls and partake in Vietnamese folk games. This was an occasion to strengthen friendship and introduce Vietnamese culture to international friends.

According to Non-commissioned Senior Captain Nguyen Van Hung, on these days, they had to both strictly perform assigned tasks at the mission, while spending time making preparation for the Tet holiday. These activities brought a cozy and exciting atmosphere and helped them ease homesickness.

Chung cake making was a special experience for Vietnamese peacekeepers at the U.N. peacekeeping mission because of the lack of necessary ingredients. Therefore, Chung cakes in Abyei were packed with both Dong and banana leaves. In Vietnam, they use only Dong leaves.

Besides, because at the UNISFA Mission, people are basically Muslim so they do not eat pork. Hence, the Vietnamese blue-berets had to go to Uganda to buy pork. In addition, some troops also brought pork from home.

Sharing his feelings on welcoming Tet away from home, he said that Tet is an occasion for family reunion. For soldiers on duty at UNISFA, they are willing to put aside their own pleasures and happiness to well accomplish their assigned missions.

International friends receive Chung cakes which are made by themselves.

The officer shared, “I hope to have more chance to join many other Vietnamese Engineering Company Rotations in the coming time or take part in peacekeeping tasks in other U.N. peacekeeping missions.”

Participating in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Abyei, Vietnamese troops are proud of their contribution to the U.N. peacekeeping operations, especially when they receive love and respect by local people and their colleagues at the U.N. mission.

“We, the blue-berets on duty far from homeland, are really touched by the care, encouragement and support of people across the country and overseas Vietnamese. My comrades and I will be determined to better fulfill our tasks, contributing to popularizing the beautiful image of the Vietnamese country and people to international friends,” he underscored.

Translated by Minh Anh