Meeting any Vietnamese these days, local people and those working at the UNMISS would start the conversation by saying: “Good! Good!” That is because, they explained, Vietnamese people are good and all Vietnamese people in South Sudan are welcomed that way. In their thoughts, Vietnam is a symbol of goodness though most of them may even do not know where Vietnam is. For those working at the UNMISS, Vietnamese officers are dear and friendly newcomers.

Personnel of L2FH Rotation 1 welcome foreign visitors. 

What contributed to the good impression on Vietnam of locals and international friends in South Sudan? Lieutenant Colonel Bui Duc Thanh, Director of the Level-two Field Hospital (L2FH) Rotation 1 of Vietnam in Bentiu, South Sudan, shared, “Working in a far, far-away country like South Sudan, our focal point is exercising professional expertise. However, building up a good image of Vietnam and the Vietnam People’s Army is also an indispensable task, as it makes local people and those from other countries have good feelings for Vietnam.”

It’s true to say that life is not easy in Bentiu and incidents may occur any time with anything apart from the professional area. For example, generators may break down in the middle of the night; air conditioners may need maintenance and water may run short any time… The Vietnamese peacekeepers are always self-resilient and self-reliant. However, all problems can be fixed more easily and quickly with the support of friends around.

In Bentiu - the land withered by the scorching sun, the lack of water is always a big issue. All troops of the U.N. base in Bentiu have to use water in a very economical way. In June, 2019, the staff of the L2FH Rotation 1 of Vietnam often had to get water from U.N. tank trucks until 2 or 3 in the morning. The newly-coming Indian engineer company next door found it even harder due to its high troop strength. Learning that situation, the L2FH Rotation 1 of Vietnam shared with the Indian unit 10 cubic meters of water each day. Not only water, the Vietnamese unit usually lends the Indian engineers their chairs, projectors and backdrop, etc. when they need. Then one day, when the Vietnamese medical troops started to build a road, they found the Indian friends already waiting, ready to support with all the engineering machines.

Staff of the UNMISS are also specifically impressed by Vietnamese dishes. That is because the L2FH of Vietnam often invites international friends to meals, having them enjoy Vietnamese cuisine. The cooks of the hospital have even blended Western flavors with the Vietnamese dishes, making the dishes much attractive and more delicious to international guests. Those who have tried Vietnamese dishes in that way at the L2FH of Vietnam several times would then be addicted to the food. Some of them even became close cuisine friends of the Vietnamese hospital. In fact, the mess hall of the L2FH of Vietnam has served not only regular staff of the UNMISS but also VIPs like the Mongolian PM, the U.K. Secretary of State for Defense, the Japanese Ambassador to the U.N., and the Head of the UNMISS.

All those things have proven that though in a far, far-away land like South Sudan, the Vietnamese people still show their friendliness, confidence, flexibility and high adaptability to the new environment. More importantly, to leave good impression on the local people and U.N. troops, the Vietnamese peacekeepers must always show their sincerity and willingness to support on the basis of U.N. regulations and the real conditions of the locality.

Translated by Huu Duong