Comrades in border areas

We visited La Lay border area in A Ngo commune, Dakrong district, Quang Tri province on the last days of the year. There, we met troops of the Border Post of La Lay International Border Gate, during which we learnt more about troops in border areas. 

A troop of the Border Post of La Lay International Border Gate helps a local in A Bung commune to receive the Tet gifts.

Colonel Nguyen Xuan Linh, political commissar of La Lay Border Post, was one of them. He has a special background. He was born on the banks of the Ben Hai River where the 17th parallel went along. He is the son of a male soldier and a militiawoman. His father died in a battle in the ancient citadel of Quang Tri when he was just one year old. Meanwhile, despite injury, his mother was determined to stay on the Northern bank of the Hien Luong River to keep fighting for the Fatherland.

With such a family tradition, Nguyen Xuan Linh joined the military and was enlisted in the Quang Tri provincial Border Guard Command. For many years attaching his life to the border areas and border people, Colonel Linh realized that the responsibility of a border guard is not only to build, manage, and protect the territorial integrity and national border security, but also more than that.

For Colonel Phan Thanh Hoang, the commanding officer of the post, he has had a strong attachment to this border locality for many years. When he was second-in-command officer of the Border Post of La Lay International Border Gate, he directed the implementation of many meaningful programs for local people, such as “Lights for border areas” in La Lay village, presenting gifts to and sponsoring local disadvantaged households.

In a crime prevention and control project, Hoang was injured. He was then recognized as a wounded soldier. He won the hearts of all local people. They considered him their family member and a village member as well. This time, holding a new position as the head of the border post, Colonel Hoang has more opportunities to help people in the area.

The joy of A Luong villager in A Bung commune at the inauguration ceremony of a clean water project presented by the border post and benefactors

At the post, we could see Colonels Hoang and Linh walking shoulder-to-shoulder like close friends and exchanging opinions. Having traveled to many places, we know that the unity of the chain-of-command is always the top factor for a unit to successfully complete their assigned missions. This is a clear and typical example.

Over the past time, both officials have actively connected with benefactors and sponsors to give thousands of gifts including rice, necessities, candy and biscuits, warm clothes and cash to needy people. Attentively, the Border Post of La Lay International Border Gate has invested in many livelihood and economic development models in the hope that local people will have more opportunities to escape poverty.

Every year, in A Ngo and A Bung communes, many young couples get married. However, over 80% of these young families face extreme difficulties. The most basic and urgent things they lack are scientific knowledge, production materials and initial investment capital to start up. Though this issue has received due attention from different levels of departments, and many projects have been carried out to deal with it. Many households have not got access to or been benefited from the projects due to many subjective and objective reasons. To assist the local households, the border post launched the model “start-up with breeding goats.”

In September 2020, the unit’s Youth Union Organization members raised over VND 12 million to buy four breeding goats. They coordinated with their peers from A Ngo and A Bung communes to present the goats to the families of Ho Van Thuo in A Ngo commune and Ho Cu Roai in A Bung commune. They also provided the local households with the way to take care of, breed and prevent diseases for the goats. After a while, the families of Roai and Thuo had their own goat herd and the breeding goats were given to other young households to “start up.”

Spring of friendship

For people in La Lay A Soi village, Sa Mouay district, Lao province of Salavan, troops from the Border Post of La Lay International Border Gate are so familiar.

After the COVID-19 outbreak, local people understood more about the value of what the border post had brought to them. Pointing to bags of rice stored in the corner of her house, Ms. Can Nhat said that after the historic flood in 2020, the canal irrigation to the fields in La Lay A Soi village was damaged. Without water, 14 hectares of fields could not be cultivated and local people were in danger of starvation. At the beginning of 2022, as soon as the Lao government opened the border, troops of the Border Post of La Lay International Border Gate coordinated with the village authorities to help people repair the canal irrigation. As a result, local people could resume their crops. “Without the help of the Vietnamese border guards, these bags of rice would not be available,” she said.

Ho Thi Nghin and Colonel Nguyen Xuan Linh beside the bike told in her entry to the story telling contest on the topic of memorabilia

Water for daily life of people in La Lay A Soi village was also scarce and unsafe, making their life difficult and they found it easy to get sick. The project of building clean water facility for people in La Lay A Soi village received great support from a group of volunteers in Cam Lo town, Quang Tri province. The day the Vietnamese border post inaugurated and handed over the project to the village was seen as the happiest day of the villagers. Local people were happy because they no longer have to walk down risky slopes to get water.

For little girl Ho Thi Nghin, Vietnamese border guards have become her relatives. Last November, she received a prize in a story telling contest on memorabilia jointly organized by the Lao Embassy, the Vietnam - Laos Friendship Association, and the Education and Times Newspaper. The story about the bicycle presented by the border post of La Lay international border gate touched the hearts of many readers and the organizers. That bike helped the poor student cross dozens of kilometers to reach her school.

Nghin said that she has been sponsored by the Vietnamese border post since 2016. Each month, she receives VND 500,000, and other necessities. This is a source of encouragement for her to continue her study. “I will try my best to study as a thank for that,” she stressed.

Laos is entering the dry season when dry grasslands gradually overwhelm the green trees. However, for people in La Lay A Soi village, it seems that there is still a season of fertility around here because the water still flows and the solidarity and friendship between Vietnamese and Lao people are ever green.

Translated by Mai Huong