Vietnam Time

7/17/2019 3:58:35 PM

Vietnamese female soldiers in peacekeeping mission

Recently, 7 Vietnamese military officers have joined the United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping force. It is an honorary mission, signifying international community’s trust in Vietnam, and at the same time, pose challenge to the participants, especially, female soldiers.

Major Do Thi Hang Nga and South Sudanese children

Loving friends of the locals

Major Do Thi Hang Nga was the first female officer participating in the Vietnam peacekeeping force. Her one-year tenure started on October 29th, 2017. Arriving in South Sudan  amidst the civil war, Nga had to overcome a difficult period. 

In addition to the threat from opposition forces and criminal gangs, UN staff had to face with epidemics such as Ebola or malaria.

Prior to her trip to South Sudan, Major Nga attended training for staff officer, communication officer, observation officer and learned about UN civil – military relationsin Sri Lanka, China, Netherlands, and South Korea in two years to prepare for the mission.

As a staff officer in United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), she usually worked for 14 – 16 hours per day (from 4pm to 8 am of the next day). She said “When the war was at its peak, sometimes, we stayed in the office for the whole week and only returned home to eat our meals and personal hygiene. I found it difficult at first because I had never watched in the night. My work was also under high pressure, especially, when I was assigned a mission from the higher officers, and had to finish it within 30 minutes, no matter it is day or night”

Major Do Thi Hang Nga in the Vietnam peacekeeping office
Besides acquiring expertise knowledge, Nga spent her time to learned about  the life of local people living in the neighborhood of UNMISS office.

She said “I spent my free time to talk to local people. In the beginning, talking to them helped relieve my homesick. I played with local children as if they were my child at home. Moreover, I also guided them how to on personal hygiene and instructed their mothers how to take care of them”.

Major Nga’s unforgettable memory was getting a call from South Sudanese children saying how they missed her and hope she would come back soon. When she finished her tenure and came back to Vietnam, some cried, some gave her their paintings and handmade gifts gift with the message “Ms. Do, please do not forget us”.

Returning to Vietnam in early 2019, she considered her time in South Sudan was “precious and worthy-living 

Achieving the dream of bringing peace to Central African Republic

Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Thi Lien, one of the 7 members representing Vietnam peacekeeping force in Central African Republic
Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Thi Lien was one of the 7 members representing Vietnam peacekeeping force in Central African Republic (CAR). Her journey started on June 30th.

According to Lien,  she began to nurture the dream of becoming a soldier in UN peacekeeping force when attending the conference and listening about the special mission shared by Major General Hoang Kim Phung, head of Vietnam’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

“My teaching job at Office of the Vietnamese Special Forces and my role as a staff officer in UNMISS in the Central African Republic (CAR) was different. I learned many skills, including independent combat skills which was also my challenge. I had joined in training courses in both Vietnam and foreign countries to raise my knowledge and confidence to take part in the UN Peacekeeping force” said Lien

Describing her mission in the upcoming time, Lt Col. Lien said that compare to the number of Vietnam’s peacekeeping officers and field hospitals in CAR was larger than in South Sudan. She gladly shared that in CAR, people’s custom and lifestyle were similar to those of the Vietnamese.

Lt Col. Lien said she was lucky to learn from her predecessor, Major Do Thi Hang Nga: “I think Nga has successfully completed her mission in South Sudan, that’s also my dream. We exchanged experiences and I also learned from other comrades who completed their post earlier. Therefore, I get more confidence for my work”.
Since 2014, 100 Vietnamese officers and staff have participated in the peacekeeping force in South Sudan and CAR. 37 officers completed the mission. Furthermore, a group of 290 Vietnamese engineers (38 of them were women) completed the preparation  and got ready to take part in the Vietnam peacekeeping force in 2020.

International community highly appreciates Vietnamese peacekeeping force. 2 Vietnamese representatives, equal to 2% of 90,000 officers, have received  letter of acknowledgement from the UN for outstanding mission fulfillment.

  ( Van Nguyen )
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