2020: a year to take the bad with the good

By Nguyen Quy   December 17, 2020 | 08:02 am GMT+7
The Covid-19 pandemic might have set the tone for 2020, but there were redeeming, ameliorating stories worth recalling, too.

Traffic cops seize cyclo, gift motorbike

Tran Van Binh sits on a new motorbike he bought from donation of traffic police officers in HCMCs District 1, February 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Diep Phan.

Tran Van Binh sits on a new motorbike he bought from donation of traffic police officers in HCMC's District 1, February 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Diep Phan.

On February 26, 56-year-old Tran Van Binh from the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang stopped his cyclo on Cong Quynh Street in District 1 to buy a baguette. Traffic cops nearby decided to check the vehicle and found that it was unregistered and not eligible to operate in the city. They confiscated the vehicle.

Since 2013, the city government has banned three-wheelers and cyclos from transporting bulky goods across the city in a bid to reduce traffic accidents and congestion. All cyclo drivers are forced to register their vehicles with authorities and have to depend almost solely on tourists willing to hire them for sightseeing tours.

However, the traffic cops who seized the cyclo donated VND4 million ($172) to help the man buy a second-hand motorbike and work as xe om (motorbike taxi) driver.

Vietnamese fishermen rescue Filipino adrift at sea for 17 days

Anding Nadie Repil (blue T-shirt) poses for a photo with Vietnamese fishermen who rescued him while catching seafood on April 17, 2020. Photo by Pham Kha.

Anding Nadie Repil (blue T-shirt) poses for a photo with Vietnamese fishermen who rescued him while catching seafood on April 17, 2020. Photo by Pham Kha.

On March 19, Filipino Anding Nadie Repil, 52, was falling asleep on his boat that had set out from the port of Candria in the Philippines when his vessel was hit and sunk by an unnamed cargo ship, throwing him overboard. He floated at sea for 17 nights and managed to survive by clinging on to a plastic can and eating seaweed.

On April 17, crew members of a Vietnamese fishing boat found and rescued the Filipino man. They took care of him and handed him over to the Philippines Embassy so that he could return home.

Repil placed his hands on his chest and repeated "Salamat (Thank you) Vietnam" many times in gratitude.

Two kids use ‘lucky money’ to send 20,000 face masks to UK

Truong Thi Linh Nha (L) and Truong Cao Khoi. Photo courtesy of British Embassy in Hanoi.

Truong Thi Linh Nha (L) and Truong Cao Khoi. Photo courtesy of the British Embassy in Hanoi.

In April, when the Covid-19 pandemic situation turned complicated in many parts of the world, Truong Thi Linh Nhan and her brother Truong Cao Khoi used their li xi (lucky money) from Tet holidays to buy 20,000 face masks and donated them to the U.K., one of the world’s largest coronavirus hotspots.

British Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward wrote them a letter of thanks, saying their "heartening" action made him hopeful for the future.

Boy clears rubbish from sewer mouths to prevent flooding

In June, Pham Trong Dat, a 12-year-old boy in school uniform and backpack was walking with his bicycle when he stopped by two sewer mouths in Dong Nai Province’s Long Thanh District. He sat down and removed trash with his bare hands. The boy's actions were captured on camera by a local family who then posted it on social media, earning him high praise from Vietnamese netizens. His act resonated in a country where the image of people littering in public places is not uncommon.

Newborn abandoned between two walls rescued

Major Nguyen Dang Manh, deputy head of Hanois Gia Lam District Police, holds a newborn baby he helped rescue from a gap between two houses, August 18, 2020. Photo courtesy of Gia Lam District police.

Major Nguyen Dang Manh, deputy head of Hanoi's Gia Lam District Police, holds a newborn baby he helped rescue from a gap between two houses, August 18, 2020. Photo courtesy of Gia Lam District police.

In August, Hanoi residents and firemen saved a newborn boy who’d been abandoned in a narrow gap between two houses. When firemen arrived at an alley on Dao Nguyen A Street in Gia Lam District, many residents were already using drills and chisels to open the crack in order to extract the baby. The gap between the two houses where the baby was deposited was around 20 cm wide.

The baby was successfully rescued and was taken to the St. Paul Hospital for treatment. Police then identified a 20-year-old female student, suffering depression after her unintended pregnancy with her boyfriend, as the mother. With assistance from local authorities and medical experts, she and her boyfriend agreed to take the baby home and nurture it.

Piggyback school friends enter top universities

2020: a year to take the bad with the good - 9

Nguyen Tat Minh, 18, was born in Thanh Hoa Province without any legs. From second grade onwards, Ngo Minh Hieu, a friend, classmate and neighbor, carried him on his back to school and back for 10 years. Their story, widely shared on social media in August, moved and inspired millions. The duo got high scores at this year's national high school exam and secured admission to top universities.

Conjoined twins go home separately

Dieu Nhi kisses her sister inside HCMC Childrens Hospital in October 2020, two months after successful separation. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.

Dieu Nhi kisses her sister inside HCMC Children's Hospital in October 2020, two months after their successful separation. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.

Hoang Truc Nhi and Hoang Dieu Nhi, born conjoined at the pelvis, were discharged from the HCMC Children’s Hospital in October, three months after more than 90 doctors, nurses and medical experts worked for 13 hours to separate them surgically.

Man, grandson save nearly 100 people in central Vietnam

Vo Van Binh stands by his damaged boat after the floodwaters recede in Quang Binh Province, central Vietnam hit by multiple storms and floods, October 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.

Vo Van Binh stands by a damaged boat he had used to rescue many people when heavy flooding hit Quang Binh Province, central Vietnam, October 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.

One memory that will endure amid the devastation of historic flooding in central Vietnam is that of a man and his grandson risking their lives to save nearly 100 people stranded by floodwaters.

On October 18, when floodwaters rose quickly in Quang Binh Province’s Quang Ninh District, residents were forced to climb to their roofs and appeal for help with their phones on social media. Vo Van Binh, 66, and his 15-year-old grandson rowed their boat to dangerous areas and take the residents, many of them elderly people, children and women, to safe areas.

After a few days of this rescue work, Binh returned home and found his house completely submerged in floodwaters. He lost almost everything he had, but he had no regrets about what he’d done.

"During storms and floods, local rescue forces cannot reach all the people... It was a normal thing to do in such situations. I don't remember exactly how many people we saved."

Disabled runner helps others while finishing Vietnam's most gruelling marathon

Ngo Van Vinh finishes the 100-km race of the Vietnam Mountain Marathon in Sa Pa Town, November 21 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Mountain Marathon.

Ngo Van Vinh finishes the 100-km race of the Vietnam Mountain Marathon in Sa Pa, November 21, 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Mountain Marathon.

Having no hands, Ngo Van Vinh could not support himself with a stick like other competitors. But he had limitless perseverance as he passed through 100 km of rugged roads and steep slopes on the Hoang Lien Son range at the Vietnam Mountain Marathon held November 20-22 in Sa Pa, the mountainous resort town.

Even as 57 contestants gave up after finding the terrain and conditions too difficult – the temperature was below 10 degrees Celsius – the 25-year-old man slowly but surely pressed ahead, finishing the race in 23 hours and 58 minutes, ranking 103rd among 137 runners. Along the way, Vinh helped and encouraged many other athletes, including a girl who got lost and was afraid of running at night, keeping her company for a long distance.

Three boys cycle 400 km plus to see parents

Three brothers return home in Ca Mua Province in December after five-day cycling tour to HCMC to meet their parents. Photo courtesy of Ca Mau Police.

Three brothers return home in Ca Mau Province in December after five-day cycling tour to HCMC to see their parents. Photo courtesy of Ca Mau Police.

Three brothers aged between 12 and 14 cycled more than 400 kilometers from the southernmost province of Ca Mau to Ho Chi Minh City to see their parents working far away from home.

They set out on three bicycles, but one broke down on the way. The eldest boy then carried another. They had just VND55,000 ($2.37) for the journey of more than 400 kilometers. When they were exhausted, they stopped and slept on the roadside.

They started their trip on the first of December in secret, prompting relatives to report their disappearance to local police. When the boys arrived at HCMC finally, their parents had returned home after hearing that they were missing. City police kept the boys safe till their parents returned.

 
 
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