“Thank you for being here!,” “Please promise to come back,” etc. are sentimental words that international colleagues at the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and local people have  for Vietnamese ‘blue-beret’ doctors, who they consider an important “spiritual fulcrum” in a land of poverty and conflicts.

L2FH Rotation 4’s personnel maneuver to the plane to head for South Sudan to take on peacekeeping duties.

At UNMISS, Vietnam’s level-2 field hospitals (L2FH) have not only provided high quality healthcare and treatment for U.N. staff and local people, but also engaged in a number of activities, such as exchange of expertise, medical skills training, experience sharing, support for the host country’s hospitals and other foreign hospitals garrisoned in Bentiu.

In particular, Vietnam's L2FH Rotation 3 applied many new techniques to the diagnosis and treatment for patients according to field conditions. Attentively, some techniques were first performed in South Sudan and were highly praised by UNMISS’s military medical commanders. In addition, the L2FH Rotations 2 and 3 of Vietnam well performed their role as front-line units in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the stationed locality.

Ms. Hiroko Hirahara, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Bentiu, shared that she received positive reviews on what the Vietnamese hospital rotations have done. She highly appreciated Vietnamese ‘blue-beret’ doctors’ contribution, wholeheartedness, and professionalism.

Meanwhile, Colonel Waleed Elazizy, Medical Chief of UNMISS, affirmed that U.N. staff felt safe and comfortable when receiving treatment at the hospital. 

Notably, facing difficult working conditions, harsh weather conditions and unstable security, Vietnamese peacekeepers have always completed their professional duties and actively and proactively taken part in charitable and humanitarian activities to help improve local people’s living standards.

Having just returned home after finishing her one-year tenure of taking on international duties in South Sudan, Captain Tong Van Anh, the only female doctor of the L2FH Rotation 3, recalled her memories. According to this peacekeeper, what she remembers most was when she gave assistance to local people, or when she visited schools and refugee camps to present gifts and teach children how to paint and plant trees to improve the living environment and play with them. Captain Anh said that seeing ‘heart-touching’ images of poor people in South Sudan and of her colleagues, she wished to do more than she could to help them.

Small gifts from Vietnamese peacekeepers for needy children in South Sudan

According to Lieutenant Colonel Trinh My Hoa, Commanding Officer of the L2FH Rotation 3, in the last days before leaving Bentiu for the Fatherland after completing its mission, the field hospital fulfilled its last charity and humanitarian program in its series of civilian-military coordination (CIMIC) activities in the hope of making small contribution to the locals’ better life. The Vietnamese hospital presented 20 sets of tables and chairs to poor students of Liech Primary School as meaningful and practical gifts for them. Additionally, Vietnamese ‘blue-beret’ medical staff-handmade masks, school supplies and other toys with their love brought joy to local children.

Doctor Van Anh touchingly said that South Sudanese students presented her and her colleagues with a simple portrait with the words “Doctor Angel.”

Apart from the gifts to local students, the L2FH Rotation 3 staff also planted 100 trees in an attempt to improve the harsh environment in Bentiu.

In Bentiu, Vietnamese field hospital’s garden for seedlings was a place that contained Vietnamese blue-berets’ enthusiasm and sentiments with Bentiu and its people that they were attached to for a year. Seedlings in this garden were planted in the locality, presented to peer hospitals and local schools in regular tree-planting activities launched by the hospital in a hope of bringing green life to the arid land of Bentiu.

In fact, Vietnam’s level-2 field hospitals’ lush green campus, brilliant flower and vegetable gardens have become a source of inspirations for their peers. Some foreign units have come to learn from the model of the Vietnamese field hospital to build their campus green, clean and beautiful. With vegetable seeds brought from Vietnam and industriousness, Vietnamese peacekeepers have successfully conquered the local arid land to grow many different types of green vegetables to not only ensure green vegetables for the hospital staff, but also present to their foreign peers. Even in difficult conditions, the spirit of self-reliance and diligence of Uncle Ho's soldiers really shine, making international friends love and respect them.

Vietnamese blue berets plant trees in the compound of Liech Primary School.

The uninterrupted participation in U.N. peacekeeping operations of Vietnam’s L2FHs has continued to affirm their prestige, professional expertise and activeness in CIMIC activities. Their performance has been applauded by UNMISS affiliates. It has also helped promote good virtues of Uncle Ho’s soldiers, left deep impression on international friends, and spread the spirit of humanity of ‘blue beret’ soldiers.

Brigadier General Dhananjay Joshi, Acting Commander of the UNMISS, applauded the hospital for spending time to engage in meaningful CIMIC activities, such as providing HIV/AIDS consultation, supporting hospitals in Bentiu, sharing medicines and medical equipment with local authorities. She also highlighted Vietnamese ‘blue beret’ doctors’ guide for local people, especially women, on how to take care of themselves in a poor local medical condition.

Although their main task is to take care of U.N. staff’s health, Vietnam's field hospitals have never refused to help South Sudanese civilians in need with the permission of UNMISS’ medical agency. Activities to assist locals have increased with more diverse forms and been brought into play by the hospital fields’ staff including those from the present L2FH Rotation 4.

Undertaking a noble international mission, Vietnamese peacekeepers have been well performing their role as “ambassadors,” thereby widely introducing to countries and international friends the image of Uncle Ho's soldiers with bravery, wisdom, and benevolence.

Translated by Mai Huong