Flood after flood has caused so much suffering for residents in the central region.
The least we can expect in this situation is that local authorities know what their constituencies’ immediate needs are and what others elsewhere are doing for them.
The media in recent days has repeatedly quoted Mai Trong Binh, the chief finance officer with Quang Binh Department of Education and Training, as saying the province is short of hundreds of thousands of textbook sets at all levels “but no one has supported the students.”
Binh said that around 150,000 sets of textbooks had been lost in the floods.
But there’s something he didn’t know.
On October 6, when Thanh Nien sent the first relief aid to flood-stricken residents in the area, our reporters called Nguyen Ke Than, director of the Quang Binh Education and Training Department, to ask about what his schools would need. Than said he was busy at a family funeral, so he couldn’t say.
The reporters called other department officials and got the same answer. They could not give us the information because there was no official estimate yet.
Anyway, Thanh Nien cooperated with the Quang Binh Youth Association and the province’s party unit to urgently send 25,000 notebooks and 1,250 pens for the children. Some sponsors have sent hundreds of textbook sets for primary and junior high school students as well.
Then Thanh Nien used readers’ support to buy another 98,000 notebooks and 2,450 pens for the province. Nearly 10,000 sets of textbooks have been sent to the province on different trips. That is not to mention other books sent by the Education Publishing House and the Ministry of Education and Training.
Binh didn’t know about all this as he had not contacted the relief groups involved, like the province’s party unit or the youth association. On the other hand, these groups must have found it difficult to collaborate with him and his colleagues as Thanh Nien did.
Students and teachers have lost many things to the floods. Everyone is aware of that. And many people from all corners of the country have been trying to help.
We do have to speak out about our problems so others can help. But the trouble should be taken to know if others have done something in this regard.
When Binh said, “no one has supported the students”, it made people, who have lent and are continuing to lend their support, feel their efforts are being ignored.
In the aftermath of disasters, officials need to be careful about what they say when they appeal for help.