|A volunteer supports passengers on coach No 7+. — Photo sggp.org.vn|
HCM CITY — Organisations and individuals over many years have been helping poor workers, and people return to their hometowns to spend the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday with their families.
"Coach number 7+" is a volunteer project implemented by the TES sponsor fund, formerly the VNO Organisation.
The coach brings poor people to their hometown for free, departing from HCM City to central provinces such as Khánh Hòa, Phú Yên, Bình Định, Quảng Trị and Quảng Bình.
Huỳnh Thị Thu, who lives in District 8, has received a ticket for Coach No 7+. She has sold lottery tickets in HCM City for ten years.
"It's been almost ten years. I haven't been able to enjoy Tết in my hometown with my family. Living in HCM City and do not have money, I stay in my boarding room, waiting for Tết to pass so I can return to work," she said.
Nguyễn Hoàng Anh, a student of the Thủ Dầu Một University in Bình Dương southern province, was pleased to receive the coach ticket.
Anh said that his family was poor, so he intended not to come back home this Tết.
"My mother had a traffic accident two years ago, weakening her health. Then she suffered from COVID-19 and needed treatment at three hospitals at much expense. As a result, my family had to mortgage our house. Now I'm thrilled with the free-of-charge ticket," he said.
In a small boarding room in District 12, Bùi Thị Khuê, from Quảng Ngãi Province, said that with the work of selling lottery tickets, she did not have any savings.
She walks for more than 20km each day and earns about VNĐ200,000 (US$8), just enough for the daily expense.
As for Khuê, returning home on Tết was a distant dream.
"Honestly, I'm very moved by the free ticket. This year I do not have to worry about travel expenses. I hope to return home with my family soon after eight years of living in HCM City," she said.
It is scheduled that Coach No 7+ will start in the middle of January next year. As many as 300 people will benefit from the project.
VNO Organisation was founded at the end of 2016 by Nguyễn Hoàng Khải, who lives in District 12.
He said that he founded a charity team in 2013 with 20 members. Most of them are high school students in Tân Phú District.
The team delivered gifts for poor children, people in sponsor centres, lottery ticket sellers and motorbike taxi drivers in HCM City.
In 2016, Khải decided to cycle from HCM City to Hà Nội to understand more about people's life and culture in different regions.
While passing central provinces, Khải saw residents had to cope with natural disasters. Many properties they saved all their lives were swept away by flood water.
Back in HCM City, Khải founded the VNO Organisation, which conducts charity programmes and supports workers and students from central provinces who live in HCM City.
The first coach was organised in 2017, taking 70 people to central provinces from HCM City.
So far, more than 20 such coaches have been organised with nearly 1,000 beneficiaries.
Volunteers will come to their houses when receiving the poor's register to study whether they need the free tickets.
The volunteers also help bring luggage and take the people's health home.
Khải said that seeing the people's smiles and hearing their thanks were a great experience, giving him more motivation to continue his charity work.
The HCM City Labour Union said that the union's tickets of love programme planned to give 35,000 free-of-charge coach, train and plane tickets to poor workers this year.
The HCM City Youth and Worker Support Centre will also present 1,500 tickets during the Tết holiday. The centre's programme is scheduled to start on January 17 next year to take poor workers to their hometown to enjoy the holiday. — VNS