For Major Nguyen Van Hien, who is a member of the Bambari Operation Team, and his colleagues, it is the sincere support and sharing of international friends that have motivated them to overcome all difficulties and hardships to complete missions entrusted by the Party, State, and military.

At  a briefing of the Bambari Operation Team

Recalling his first days in Bambari, a town in Ouaka of the Central African Republic, Major Hien said that although he had been well-prepared before being deployed to the area, he was still shocked at the harsh weather conditions which is filled with red soil and gravels. Dozens of families live in small cottages. On the way to the central area of Ouaka, he did not see any sign of medical, education, electricity, and water systems. Everything was far beyond the imagination of the Vietnamese blue beret soldier.

Difficulties piled up when food and necessities transported by air from Vietnam could not reach the Central African Republic due to the complicated security situation. Meanwhile, local food was very scarce. However, those difficult times made the young officer feel clearly the sentiment and international solidarity. 

Major Hien and local people

During the first two months at the mission, international colleagues from Serbia, Pakistan, Nepal, Morocco, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, and Russia shared what they had with Major Hien. All of them were happy sharing with the Vietnamese colleague, and considered that the opportunity to popularize their countries’ cuisine to Vietnam. Loaves of bread, canned food, instant noodles, and basic necessities from international friends helped Major Hien survive those days in a foreign country. The sincere support made him feel like living in his own family.

In response to international colleagues’ sentiment, Major Hien later presented vegetables grown by himself to them. On receiving goods from Vietnam, he cooked Vietnamese dishes as a thank-you to international friends. Hien said that these occasions are opportunity for him to introduce special Vietnamese dishes to international friends.

Captain Ljubisav Vicentijevic, an Serbian officer, harvests water spinach grown by Major Hien.

Besides that, sporting and cultural activities have brought him and international colleagues closer. Every evening, the Vietnamese Major and his colleagues enjoy tea or coffee and share stories about their family, their countries, culture, and people with each other. Those conversations and exchanges have helped U.N. peacekeepers get closer together and strengthened their mutual understanding. Ever since, they consider each other family members, sharing joys and sorrows in life, encouraging each other to well perform their assigned tasks.

Apart from that, international colleagues have enthusiastically provided professional assistance to Major Nguyen Van Hien. In the first days, he felt like a fish out of the water when working in an international, multinational, multilingual, and multicultural environment. However, thanks to the enthusiastic support of colleagues in the Bambari Operation Team and his own efforts, the Vietnamese blue beret officer has become more confident to perform his duties and received high appreciation from his superiors, international friends, and colleagues.

Major Nguyen Van Hien presents gift to a female officer on International Women's Day.

Half of the working term has passed, what remains in Major Hien's mind is the pure international solidarity and sentiment of colleagues from all over the world and simple, poor but sentimental local people. The more difficult the situations are, the more he appreciates and cherishes the local land and people. It is these simple factors that motivate him and his colleagues to work harder and dedicate themselves to the noble peacekeeping mission.

By Huy Truong from Central Africa

Translated by Tran Hoai