Viet Nam News
For only VNĐ2,000 (less than US10 cents), guests at the Smile Eatery Network in HCM City receive a nutritious meal of rice, braised pork, vegetables and soup.
The network’s six eateries are staffed by volunteers, including Bùi Quang Long, a driver who works for an office near Eatery on Cống Quỳnh Street in District 1.
Long, who works during his lunch hour, says he wants to help the poor. Most of the guests are manual labourers, lottery sellers, scrap-iron dealers and pedicab or motorbike taxi drivers.
Năm Đồng, one of the founders of the Smile Eatery Network, says all of the eateries have met hygienic standards and have become so popular that the network plans to expand.
Every day, guests stand in line at the eateries beginning at 11am.
Lê Đình Phương, a 79-year-old from Phú Yên Province, who earns his living selling lottery tickets, eats meals there and says the volunteers treat him well.
Most of the people who have donated funds to the eateries do not want to be named. Two young women who donated VND300,000, for example, left a note, saying “no need for us to be named”.
One day, a young girl showed up at an eatery with a 50kg bag of rice, saying that she wanted to ensure that the poor had enough to eat.
John William Kelly, an American veteran who visited HCM City in 2011, works as a volunteer six days per week for the network.
The Smile Charity Eatery network includes Smile No 1 on Cống Quỳnh Street in District 1; Smile No 2 on Nguyễn Ngọc Nhựt Street in Tân Phú District; Smile No 3 at 298A Huỳnh Tấn Phát Street in District 7; Smile No 4 at 132 Bến Vân Đồn Street in District 4; and Smile No 6 at 43 Trưng Trắc Street in Thủ Đức District.VNS