Viet Nam News
SÓC TRĂNG — Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Trương Văn Dũng’s family restaurant, located near Nghiệp Industrial Zone offers meals for just VNĐ2,000. Poor people living in the area arrive to enjoy soup, a vegetable and meat, all steeply discounted from the usual price of VNĐ 15.000-20.000.
Early in the morning, family members go to the market to buy ingredients. They usually finish cooking around ten. Cheap lunches are ready to be served, especially for poor workers.
“My cousin first came up with the idea of providing cheap meals for the poor, when I first considered doing something to help needy people in the neighbourhood,” Dũng, who is head of a charity group under An Hiệp Commune Red Cross in Châu Thành District told the Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.
Dũng said that his family was very poor when he was a child. Understanding the difficulties of poverty, Dũng long wanted to help other poor people, especially as his own life has become better.
Dũng himself helps cook at the restaurant and said he is happy to see people enjoy the meals.
Since July 2017 when the restaurant was opened, it has provided about 100 sets of meals each day.
The commune Red Cross collects rice donations while Dũng’s restaurant is responsible for other dishes.
Local resident Trần Ngọc Bích is a volunteer working in the restaurant. She said that their work was intense, as cooking for hundreds of people a day is not simple.
“People donate rice or money. I don’t have money, so I work at the restaurant as my way to help disadvantaged people,” Bích said. “The work is very meaningful to me and makes me happy.”
Lý Thị Huệ, 92, is a regular customer at Dũng’s restaurant. She lives alone in her house in Sóc Trăng City, as her children are all working in southern province of Bình Dương. They do not support her, so she is a beggar to make ends meet.
Lý Thế Hùng, 58, a xe ôm (motorbike taxi driver), said that his friends told him to have meals at Dũng’s restaurant to save money.
Hùng said that he earned about VNĐ50,000 daily thanks to xe ôm business, but normally half of the earnings would be spent on food.
“Having cheap meals at Dũng’s restaurant helps me to save more money,” he said. He added that the food there tasted good and fresh—enough for him.
Huỳnh Cường, 27, a lottery seller, said that poor workers like him feel more secure, at least able to avoid hunger, thanks to the cheap meals.
Dũng said that he and his family are happy to provide cheap meals to poor people every day.
“It will be better if more people can get the cheap meals,” Dũng said.
Dũng, like others who undertake good deeds, knows a simple but meaningful truth: sharing brings happiness.
Last year, Việt Nam had nearly 2 million poor families, about 8.3 per cent of the country’s total households. More than 1.3 million households were identified as near-poor, meaning they have low income per capita and lack of access to basic social services including healthcare, education, housing, clean water and information.
The Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs estimated that by the end of this year, Việt Nam’s poverty rate could reduced to 7 per cent, a 1.3 per cent decline from last year.
Still, the figures demonstrate the critical need for individuals to share and help in Việt Nam’s society. Dũng’s restaurant in Sóc Trăng is among many organisations working to help the poor across the country.
Nguyễn Anh Vũ, owner of a restaurant that offers VNĐ1,000 meals on Trần Bình Trọng Street in Hà Nội’s Cầu Giấy District, said that the meals were for the poor, mostly elderly people and street vendors.
“Some of our customers pay VNĐ 1,000 only, while many pay more or put money into the donation box at the restaurant,” Vũ said, adding that customers able to pay full price also joined to help more people.
Vũ Thị Lan, a member of E2k charity group, which collects used clothes and then sells each item for VNĐ2,000, said that the clothes were not free so that people felt more comfortable buying them, instead of feeling that they are receiving charity.
The revenue from selling clothes would be used to help poor patients or those in remote mountainous areas, she said.
Phạm Văn Tới, head of the National Charity Club, said that some people were skeptical about charity activities while others took advantages of charity activities to benefit themselves.
“Anyway, don’t hesitate to do good deeds. Your help could make underprivileged people have a better life and the whole society more humane,” Tới said. — VNS