HanoiPhan Thi Binh’s free ambulance opened in December 2018 thanks to the sale of land in Cam Ranh, Khanh Hoa for nearly one billion VND.
Since then, the woman in Hoang Mai district and 10 associates have been on more than 400 trips carrying patients, traveling throughout the northern provinces.
A free ambulance is a cherished plan of Mrs. Binh since 2016, when she learned that a person in Son La bundled his brother’s body with a motorbike because he could not afford to rent a car. Next was the case of a hospital guard who stopped a car carrying a dying patient to his hometown just because “underground law does not allow cars from other places to pick up patients”.
“I was obsessed. At that time, I wished there was a free ambulance to transport the sick to my hometown to relieve suffering,” she said.
“Knowing the free bus ride before the hospital discharge day, I called Ms. Binh when there was not a penny left in my pocket,” shared Mr. Tran Quang Dinh, a native of Truc Ninh, Nam Dinh. The man with both legs was brought home by “Ms. Binh’s car” from the Burn Institute at the end of 2020. He was also given a little extra money because his family was in trouble, raising a small child alone.
Volunteer work happened to Mrs. Binh 21 years ago. Because of family events, she often follows the group of Buddhists to worship in many places. Seeing the highland children huddled in the cold, she returned to collect old clothes and bring them as gifts. At that time, she had a side job selling and trading real estate. Profits are spent buying gifts for lonely situations, building bridges or cooking rice and porridge at hospitals.
In 2011, a malignant tumor appeared on her right breast, which she had to surgically remove. But illness still haunts her.
“I desperately needed to get out of this pain,” she said.
She continued to cook rice, cook porridge, go to difficult places, like how to repay life’s debt. After a long time doing volunteer work alone, in 2018, she founded the group Tu Tam, calling for funding for free eye surgery for 400 cases of cataracts.
At the end of 2019, Ms. Binh planned to open a free oriental medicine pharmacy from the sale of the second land in Da Nang, but when Covid-19 broke out, the plan was shelved. A year later, the cancer cells began to metastasize to the bone. Two months in hospital for radiation therapy, chemotherapy, constant pain. Even the smallest activities such as turning around, going to the toilet, she also needs help.
“For 10 years with cancer, this is the time when I suffer the most, but I still have the desire to live to open a pharmacy,” Ms. Binh said, and said that the illness that year, she lost 10 kg.
The day she was discharged from the hospital was also the time when storms and floods occurred in the Central region. Lying at home, she used three phones at the same time to coordinate four trucks carrying food, medicine, and clothes into the flood area. This phone just dropped, the next one vibrated again, hot all day.
Vu Van Anh, a member of Tu Tam group, said that she respects Mrs. Binh’s energy. “Once, even though she had just received radiation the day before, the next day at 3 a.m. she was there to pack up to volunteer with the group.”
“Miss Binh deserves to be the leader, despite her illness to help people who are more difficult than herself,” Van Anh said.
Before Covid-19, Ms. Binh and her friends established more porridge and rice nests, cooked and distributed free of charge to patients and family members at some hospitals in Hanoi. During the epidemic, because she had to stay at home, she co-financed the construction of a school in An Giang, Quang Binh. She also supports clothes and books for many schools in Tuyen Quang, and is the main sponsor of bridge and road construction in Ben Tre.
“We may not be able to do great things, but we can do small things with great love,” said a Hanoi woman at the ceremony to honor nine excellent citizens of the capital in 2021. was also awarded by the Prime Minister a typical individual merit certificate in the campaign “Study and follow Ho Chi Minh’s moral example”.
Currently, the 65-year-old woman’s only dream is to have more health and fulfill her wish to build a nursing home and an orphanage for children.
“If I finish it in time, I’ll be at ease when I close my eyes,” she said.