Throughout 5 consecutive days, from 2/10 to 6/10, the SOS team lead by UDA students had spent night and day in the rain, repairing and aiding multitudes of motorbikes on which people are migrating back to the countryside to avoid the pandemic centers.
SOS team tirelessly repairing vehicles that had traveled thousands of kms across the country back to countryside homes.
The brave heroes of the SOS team - the students of UDA - had marched with all due haste upon hearing of the people’s plight.
Following the ensemble of the SOS team, UDA had provided the team with protective gear and must strictly adhere to Covid-19 preventive protocols. The university had also supplied the SOS team with necessary tools to provide on the spot maintenance for motorbikes.
At 6:30 am on Oct 6th, having just finished their “night shift”, Doan Phuong Nam - an Electrical and Electronic Technology major student - had raced back from the mountain pass to attend online class. Just after finishing class at 15:30, he and his teammates immediately reported back to their posts at Hai Van pass, ready for another night of aid-giving.
Among Phuong Nam’s teammates are Huynh Van Duy, Xuan Tanh, Quang Thuan,.. and many others who are all Engineering students at UDA. Their unwavering motto was simply “By any means necessary, our kith and kin must reach their homes in the countryside safely and away from hardship and the pandemic.”
With vigilance and dedication, Phuong Nam’s team had provided aid to 400 motorbikes, carrying 1000 people through the mountain pass under heavy rain and chilling wind.
“The last few days, me and my friends had only 2-3 hours of sleep each day. Apart from doing maintenance and repairing vehicles, I also took part in patrolling the C9 checkpoint with other volunteer groups from the university.”
People restarted their engines with joy and hope: “That is good enough! Thank you, please see to the others.”
Nam’s group had been given the task of checking up on motorbikes and making necessary maintenance such as replacing parts, applying a new coat of oil on rusty chains, all to “revive” the vehicle so that it can carry people to the safety of their homes in the countryside. They worked vigorously because time was of the essence as more and more people waited for their aid. Time seems to fly as their hands, covered in grease and grime, never tired as they work from one vehicle to the next. Soon, dozens of motorbikes were put back on the road back to the countryside, and then another dozen, and another. There wasn't even time to reply to the people’s gratitude as more were still waiting.
“On Oct 6th, we had aided more than 100 motorbikes because there were so many people that were going through our city, through this mountain pass. The work is hard but our spirit is high because there are many people that need us here.” reported Huynh Van Duy to the Youth Association’s office.
According to Le Dinh Luong, vice secretary of UDA’s Youth Association, the UDA SOS team provided aid to more than 50 motorbikes each night. One night, they had a peak of 120 motorbikes which kept the team up from dusk until dawn. At the end of the 5th day of operations, 400 vehicles had received maintenance and parts replacement.
“Many motorbikes had serious issues and degraded parts that needed replacement. Had we not been here, some motorbikes would have broken down on the open road.” recalled Luong, “Luckily, we had a steady supply of spare parts provided by the university. However, there were still some motorbikes that were so old that they were beyond repair. Even in those cases, we still did our best to ensure the people had a safe passage home.
Throughout the pandemic outbreak, the UDA Youth Association has and still provides aid to UDA students as well as the unfortunate and carry out preventive measures.
Programs with the purpose of aiding UDA students in quarantine areas include thousands of essential items and necessities delivered to both teachers and students; The “Sugarcane juice stand” that delivered more than 500 cups of refreshments to officers patrolling the checkpoints; Participating in blood donations organized by the city’s Ministry of Health with many litres of donations going to the Lifeblood Bank; 38 Medical students were assigned the task of administering vaccines, 38 were given the task of operating field hospitals and hundreds more volunteered to patrol checkpoints. The blue uniform of UDA’s youthful volunteers carried with them hope and comfort throughout the city.
The UDA SOS team, composed mostly of Electrical and Electronic Technology students, Automotive Technology students and more, had prior experience doing maintenance in harsh conditions during the July 2021 virus outbreak. Thus they were active and ready for the October “marching orders” from the Da Nang Police Department. The SOS team’s purpose was clear: Provide aid and ensure safe passage for people migrating from Ho Chi Minh City back to the countryside. Along with motorcycle maintenance, the UDA staff had also supplied 1000 meals, 1200 1,5 litre bottles of water, 500 rain coats, 20 boxes of instant noodles and more to aid the people’s thousand-kilometre journey to safety.
The fruit of the UDA SOS team’s labor and efforts is the joy and gratitude received whenever another vehicle continues its journey to carry people back to their families and away from the pandemic. One person from Nghe An was overjoyed after his motorcycle was checked and repaired after his two day and night journey: “I have no choice but to go through the rain and face the winds night and day. Receiving this aid gave me a brief respite, and now I am sure that I will reach my family.”
The UDA staff and teachers are eternally proud of our students as they should be proud of themselves for their great deeds. Passing down knowledge and skills to the next generation is infinitely easier than nurturing character and virtues. For our students to already be compassionate and responsible individuals is a great boon to us and motivates the UDA staff to ensure a bright future for our students.
Dong A university staff and students supporting Vaccine Fund to prevent COVID-19.