“As the only radiographer at the hospital, I have to be on-call 24 hours a day. Whenever receiving a request via the walkie-talkie, I must be present, regardless of day or night. I am used to it now,” told Le Na.

Non-commissioned Second Lieutenant Le Na participates in a tree planting activity at a primary school in South Sudan.

Le Na has been confidently undertaking the tasks assumed for men for nearly 9 months now in Bentiu. On receiving the job from L2HF2, she started working right away and she worked and learned to work at the same time. Her patients are mostly foreign men whose high stature makes it hard for her to work on the X-ray machine to capture their body parts. Due to the lack of diagnostic facilities at the field, Le Na has to resort to more X-ray techniques rarely or never done in Vietnam. Despite her 6.0 IELTS band score, she sometimes had to use “sign language” or seek her colleagues’ help with the patients who do not speak English or little English.

However, work pressure fails to discourage this strong servicewoman. Late night shifts are no longer a concern and observing Covid-19 prevention and control measures, including wearing a PPE protective suit in the local hot weather condition, at the hospital is just a little problem. She has no worries of the pandemic, as for Le Na and her colleagues the high determination is to receive and treat patients amid the epidemic without letting it affect their task performance.

Le Na is the only radiographer at the L2FH3 of Vietnam.

As revealed by Lieutenant Colonel Trinh My Hoa, Commanding Officer of Vietnam’s L2FH3, Le Na was well-trained in radiology at Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy. She has also learned a lot more working at Military Hospital 175. Therefore, she is increasingly more confident when taking on the task in Bentiu. As there is no substitute at work, she volunteered not to take a leave of absence during her one-year term of office.

“As I participated in The Civil-Military Co-operation (CIMIC) activities, I learned the hardships of the South Sudanese people and those are extremely invaluable experiences for me. When holding hands, playing with children, and seeing their tired eyes shining with joy, I came to realize the significance of the United Nations peacekeeping operations. When the children chanted ‘Vietnam,’ I felt touched and proud,” Le Na shared.

As the youngest member of the unit, the girl born in 1996 feels lucky to live in the love of the older brothers and sisters in the “L2FH3 family.” Living and working in a harsh environment, Le Na confided those illnesses were inevitable, not to mention pressure and depression. During those hard timed, teammates were by her side, and Le Na’s family was always a pillar of support.

An optimistic and beautiful smile is always on her face.

As the hospital’s commanding officer and Le Na’s classmate at English classes, Lieutenant Colonel Trinh My Hoa is impressed by Le Na’s voluntary and dedication spirit. Le Na, along with her colleagues, has participated actively in all activities such as playing sports, cooking, planting trees, decorating the barracks. Her home-made cakes won the heart of VIP guests of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan and the United Nations. She has also introduced her local coconut candies from her hometown Ben Tre to international colleagues as gifts.

A Pakistani engineering company nearby often joins exchange activities with the hospital and the Pakistani friends love Le Na and call her “younger sister” in Vietnamese, probably because of the bright smile that she always wears as well as her simplicity, closeness, and cuteness.


Le Na shows off her skills of making Vietnamese hollow doughnuts.

Once a voluntary youth at home, Le Na had meaningful trips, experiencing the joy of sharing and helping people. That joy is even bigger now as she is in the “green beret” force. However, she is well aware that she has to make a lot more efforts to realize her dreams and ambitions. Le Na expresses her happiness via her “mobile image diary” that she is keeping, recording beautiful and meaningful moments. The task of training the only radiographer at Bentiu General Hospital in terribly harsh working conditions has also offered her a new experience. This is also her meaningful contribution to a place in need of support like South Sudan.

Le Na proudly shared that joining the military and the L2FH3 has opened up a new chapter in her life. “I have learned how to stay optimistic, ready to face pressure, and think in a more mature way,” she said. 

Translated by Tra My - Kim Ngan - Thuy Trang - Thu Trang