Thursday, October 27 2016


Volunteers try to make a difference

Update: January, 10/2016 - 08:22
TLC: A member of the Timeless Community gives a free hair cut to a local elder. — Photo

Be it cleaning up beaches or offering free haircuts to elderly people, a group of volunteers in Hoi An have taken it upon themselves to offer their support to the local community. Nguyen Trang reports.

The Timeless Community has been active in Hoi An City in the central provinces of Quang Nam since July 2014.

It brings together young volunteers who carry out several activities for needy elderly people and children.

Head of the group Nguyen Trung Tan, 23, a graduate of Quy Nhon University, said he had joined social volunteer work organised by his university to help needy people while he was a student.

"When I graduated, my friends and I decided to set up our own volunteer group of 14 graduates and students from local colleges and universities as well as the local women's union," he said.

The group often organises activities such as clearing rubbish in streets, beaches and river banks. It has offered free paper bags to shop owners in Hoi An market, joined local environment cleaners for classifying rubbish for recycling and offered free drinking water.

"The local people are not very aware of environment hygiene," Tan said. "We often divide ourselves into small groups to chat with people on the topic. We encourage them to use towels to dry hands, instead of using tissues, and offer tourists safe water so that they can reuse their bottles rather than throw them away."

Last December, the group organised a field trip to Tra Cang Primary School in Bac Tra My District, Quang Nam Province. Their bus broke down just 10km from the school on a road that was under construction. It got dark quickly and some girls in the group started crying for fear that they would have to stay overnight on the road.

"On getting to know their plight, teachers from the school brought their bikes to take us to the school," Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoang, a member of the group, said. "That's an unforgettable experience for me and other girls in the group.

"When we reached the school and gave the students our gifts, they at first looked at us with doubtful eyes. After a few hours of talk, we came closer. They even held us tight when we left," she said.

During the last Lunar New Year festival, the group took a field trip to the remote mountainous areas of Quang Nam to give children warm blankets.

Volunteer hairdressers

"While visiting needy elderly people and children, we found that they often let their hair grow long as they were not able to get their hair cut," Tan said.

There are three professional hair dressers and five amateur ones in the group, who offer free haircuts to poor people every last Saturday of the month.

Nguyen Tuan Lien, 35, from Cam Thanh Commune in Hoi An City, has always enthusiastically offered free haircuts organised by the group.

He had joined another free haircut project before joining this group. In 2010, Lien visited A Nong Commune in Tay Giang District.

"When I offered to cut their hair, they said they were scared. After I asked a friend in the volunteer group to get a haircut as an example, they agreed," Lien said.

Needy children often have long, dirty hair, which gets entangled all the time, Lien said.

He cannot forget the group's visit to cut the hair of disabled children in the Disabled Children's Centre in Hoi An City.

"We just hope poor people feel the warmth of love that they lack," Tan said.

"We want to act as a sun that brings smiles and realises the dreams of children. Some children even say they hope to become hairdressers, while getting our free haircuts". — VNS

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