April is the season of hay firing in Southern Laos. Visiting Southern Laos at this time of the year, what people feel first is hot weather. The temperature is usually between 37°C and 40°C, plus scotching sun and dry wind, baking people and things on earth.

Vietnamese military officers from the Kon Tum provincial Military Command and Military Region 5 experienced the “weather specialty” of Southern Laos when visiting the Khetsomboun village grouping, Phouvong district, Attapeu province, Laos on the occasion of the Lao traditional Bunpimay festival, from April 2-5.

Health checkups given to Lao people

As usual, when the Lao traditional Bunpimay festival is coming, the Kon Tum provincial Military Command sends a mission to Lao people living on the other side of the shared border to visit, extend greetings, present gifts as well as provide free health checkups and medicines to the local people. 

This year, a Vietnamese military mission of 27 medical workers from Hospital 13 under Military Region 5 and officers of the Kon Tum provincial Military Command, led by Senior Colonel Dona Van Nhat, Commissar of the Kon Tum provincial Military Command, traveled 300km to the Khetsomboun grouping of four villages, namely Phoukeua, Sombun, Namxuan and Phouyang. These are the four villages in especially difficult circumstances of Phouvong district across the Vietnamese border district of Ngoc Hoi, Kon Tum province.

Although Lao authorities have paid much attention to developing the villages, the local people still lead hard lives due to tough natural conditions. 

Empathizing with the Lao people’s difficulties and hardships, the Vietnamese people and military units of Kon Tum province often offer supports in both material and spiritual terms for their Lao neighbors. On this Bunpimay occasion, the Vietnamese military mission offered 115 gifts, including rice, cooking oil, candies and other necessities, to needy locals, worth VND 150 million in total. The mission also offered five local needy households with VND 10 million each for house repair.

At the gift-presenting ceremony, Mr. Latsami, a resident of Phoukeau village, said in a moving voice, “The Vietnam People's Army is so good to us. You stood side by side with the Lao people and military to fight the common enemies in wartime for Laos’ independence and freedom. You have continued supporting us in overcoming difficulties in peacetime.”

Lao people receive money for repairing their houses.

Ms. Khamthavi, a native of Somboun village, could not utter a word when receiving VND 10 million from Vietnamese military officers. She has many children so her family is among the poorest in the village. Her house was dilapidated for several years but she could not afford the repair. With the support from the Vietnamese military mission, she would reroof the house with metal sheets before the rainy season.

Witnessing the difficult living conditions of the Lao locals, medical doctors and nurses of Hospital 13 quickly deployed medical equipment and devices to offer free medical checkups and medicines to local people immediately after their arrival even though they were very tired after a long and bumpy journey.

They were busy examining people’s health, offering medicines and health counseling, but they still kept smiling and treated local people nicely. Officers of the Vietnamese martyr remains collection team of K53, who are working at the Lao locality, also supported the doctors and nurses in communicating with local people.

By 2pm on April 5, as many as 650 local people had their health checked and were provided with free medicines and health counseling.

Mr. Khamboun, aged 74, living in Namxuan, traveled 15km from early morning to the center of the village grouping to meet Vietnamese military officers and to have his health examined.

Senior Colonel Doan Van Nhat, head of the mission, said that the program, a small gift from the Vietnamese military, would hopefully ease difficulties of the local people and helped them celebrate their traditional Bunpimay more happily.

Such activities also contribute to cementing the special friendship and solidarity between the peoples and militaries of the two countries in general, and the Vietnamese province of Kon Tum and Lao province of Attapeu in particular.

Translated by Thu Nguyen