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Covid-hit family spared 1,000-km cycle home

By Bao Nhien   July 21, 2021 | 12:53 am PT
Covid-hit family spared 1,000-km cycle home
An officer wishes the family of four a safe journey after passing the Chung My Covid-19 checkpoint in Ninh Phuoc District, Ninh Thuan Province. Photo courtesy of Youth Police of Ninh Phuoc District.
An out of work family decided to cycle 1,300 kilometers from southern Dong Nai Province to their hometown in central Nghe An to ride out the Covid-19 pandemic.

On July 19, under a scorching sun, four people on two bicycles wearily head for a Covid-19 checkpoint in Ninh Phuoc District, central Ninh Thuan Province.

When they stopped to make medical declarations, the personnel there learned that the family had come all the way from Dong Nai Province in the south and were heading to their hometown in central Nghe An Province.

The four were Vo Thanh Binh, 28, and his mother, 51, sister, 30, and a young nephew.

Five years ago they moved to Dong Nai's Trang Bom District to work in a factory. But the Covid-19 outbreak over the last two years made things harder and harder until finally in April this year they could no longer find jobs.

On July 9, Dong Nai Province ordered two weeks of social distancing. Local people are required to stay at home and only go out for certain things such as buying food or medicines or to work at factories or businesses that are allowed to open.

Until the night before leaving the family struggled to decide if they they should stay or not, but finally decided to cycle back to Nghe An.

Binh told VnExpress on July 19: "I carried my mother and my sister carried her child. We cycled at a very slow speed. On average, we traveled 30 kilometers a day." They had traveled around 300 km in 10 days by then.

Binh said his family ate and slept on the street. Along the way, people who learned about their situation helped: Some gave them food and fruits, others gave money and officials at Covid-19 checkpoints carried out the screening and other protocols as smoothly and quickly as possible so that they can carry on with their trip.

Officers at the Chung My checkpoint in Ninh Phuoc District gave them VND1 million ($43.44) and a lot of food and drinks.

Binh said: "During our journey I started to realize that my family is not in the worst situation. At least my family has bicycles to travel. We saw many other people walking long distances home while carrying heavy backpacks."

The family had another 1,000 km to travel, which could have taken another 40 days.

Fortunately, officials at the Chung My checkpoint also shared their story online, and soon some people met the family on the street, drove them to Thap Cham railway station in Ninh Thuan Province and bought tickets for them to return to Nghe An Province.

On July 20 they were tested for Covid, and their train is at noon the next day.

"My family is extremely grateful for the help of benefactors," Binh said.

With Covid raging in Saigon, many workers there too have left in recent days. Many localities are organizing transportation to bring their people back home.

Like Binh and his family, no matter how arduous the trip could be, many seek to return not only since earning a livelihood is difficult but also because a place called home beckons.

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