Holland Hospital Shows Love for Vietnam

The building and maintenance of Benh Vien Ha Lan (Holland Hospital) in Quang Tri province was the starting point of a special relation between the Medical Commitee of Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) and this province, which is still going strong after over 50 years.
April 14, 2023 | 09:38

From the cup the Dutch people use when campaigning to raise funds for the people of Vietnam to images of Dutch men repairing sewing machines for Vietnamese compatriots, those are two of the many artifacts on display at the Quang Tri based-MCNV souvenir house, which used to be the building of the old Holland hospital, a work for the cooperation relationship between Quang Tri province and the Medical Commitee of Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) and a testament to the affection between the two peoples.

Proof of people's affection

Once visiting a memorial house located on the campus of Quang Tri Medical College, Marcel Tromp, a Dutch donor, pointed to an old cup displayed in a glass case. "I also have a cup like that," he said, "I and other members brought it, knocking on doors from house to house to mobilise the funds to help the people of Vietnam.”

Ans Hartskeerl, another member of the Dutch donor team, looked at a photo of Dutch men repairing sewing machines and recalled, "At that time, I asked my husband to bring the sewing machine to the donation point. At that time, I regretted it because it was a memento left by my mother, but I think the Vietnamese people need it more than I do."

The MCNV memorial house in Quang Tri also keeps many other artifacts including videos, posters and pictures of the anti-war movement showing the solidarity of the Dutch people towards the Vietnamese people as well as the development history of MCNV.

Holland Hospital Marks Affection of Dutch People for Vietnamese
Holland Hospital Memorial House.

From 1965 onwards the inhumane warfare in Vietnam sparked protests all over the world. In the Dutch capital city of Amsterdam, there were protest demonstrations almost every week. At the same time, all the facts and events about the Vietnam war and the protest movement were published in a bi­monthly magazine called ‘Vietnam Bulletin’.

In many cities, local groups started collecting money for different purposes in Vietnam.

MCNV was founded on November 18, 1968 by a group of Dutch intellects including Prof. Jaap de Haas, Dr, Nick van Rhijn and Dr. Fred Groenink, aiming at providing large-scale medical supplies for areas that were harshly devastated by the war in Vietnam.

The birth of MCNV marked the formation of a cross-continent bridge, helping deliver the support of Dutch people to Vietnamese who were in need.

In 1973, originating from the initiative of Dr. Rhijn, MCNV planned to build a prefab hospital for Quang Tri province, the locality most affected by the war.

With the support of the then Dutch Minister for Cooperation & Development, Jan Pronk, many universities in the Netherlands and several sponsors of the scheme were launched in 1974. People loved it. Dutch peace-loving people have designed and prefabricated aluminum frames for transfer to hospital assembly. In 1977, the Holland Hospital was officially opened.

The hospital was originally named Dong Ha, but the local authorities and people were used to the close and dear name "Holland Hospital". The hospital contributed to the health care of the people of Quang Tri for 20 years until the province built a new hospital in 1997. The facility of the old hospital was transferred to the Training Center to create the health workforce of the province and then the Quang Tri Medical High School (today the Medical College).

On this ground, MCNV Central Office was established in 1999 and implemented various project activities until today. It is also here that in 2006 MCNV built a memorial house - a place to keep countless posters, photographs, video and sound fragments and a large number of objects show the history of MCNV and provide an impressive image of the protests against the American War in Vietnam and the massive solidarity shown by the Dutch people.

The museum is a symbol of more than thirty years of cooperation between the province of Quang Tri and MCNV and the Dutch people and is dedicated to faithful MCNV donors. The museum situates in Quang Tri Secondary Medical School, Dong Luong commune, Dong Ha City, can be visited on workdays by appointment.

Gratitude from Vietnam

According to the people of Quang Tri, the birth of the Holland Hospital in the difficult years of war changed many people’s life. Some even named their children “Ha Lan” (Holland) to express their gratitude to the Dutch people.

Tran Thi Ha was one of the first babies born at the Dutch Hospital. In the womb, she experienced Dutch kindness.

“My mother had a difficult birth. She didn't know she was going to have twins. She later recounted that a few days before the due date, a group of foreigners came to visit and give flowers. It wasn't until I left university in 1999 and joined MCNV that I learned that this organization had helped build the hospital. The foreigners who gave flowers to my mother that day were from the Netherlands.”

The Holland Hospital project is the beginning of a special relationship between Quang Tri province and MCNV and the Dutch government. Since then, the Dutch people with kind hearts have persistently supported the people of Quang Tri in particular and Vietnam in general with specific activities such as supporting the prevention of tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV; focusing on community development, capacity building for people with disabilities; construction of civil works.

With Quang Tri, through MCNV, the Dutch people have supported the implementation of many health awareness-raising projects and a number of economic and educational development programs.

Speaking in the program of talks and friendship exchanges with Dutch partners, experts and donors working in Quang Tri on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the Netherlands and 50 years of the establishment of MCNV, Vice Chairman of Provincial People's Committee Ha Sy Dong thanks the attention, timely and effective support of the Dutch government and people during the past time for the province.

He stressed that Quang Tri wished the Netherlands would continue to support the province in community health care activities, response to climate change, support for people with disabilities, and development of high-tech agriculture through connecting with Dutch businesses and investors to learn about investment cooperation in Quang Tri.

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