Phượng Phan walks around the forest and streets near her house in Thornleigh, northwest of Sydney for three hours each day to raise funds for disadvantaged Vietnamese children. — Photo courtesy of Phượng Phan
SYDNEY — A Vietnamese woman living in Sydney, Australia has challenged herself to walk 20,000 steps per day for the entire of June to raise funds for disadvantaged Vietnamese children affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since June 1, every day, Phượng Phan has walked around the forest and streets near her house in Thornleigh, northwest of Sydney for three hours.
The walking distance each day is about 13 to 14 km.
She has called for help from her colleagues and the Vietnamese community in Australia to make donations by updating the distance and number of steps on her Facebook account after each daily walk.
Phượng is a regular jogger and won third prize in her company’s competition which encouraged staff to walk 10,000 steps per day in May to stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the website givenow.com.au where she raises funds, she said the walk aims to “raise AUD2,000 (VNĐ32.5 million) for Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation to help children in crisis in Việt Nam”.
The Blue Dragon Children's Foundation is a charity that helps street kids, kids with disabilities, and rescues people from slavery and human trafficking in Việt Nam.
“The coronavirus pandemic is causing critical harm to those who were already vulnerable or in crisis situations.
"While Việt Nam has controlled the health effects of the virus very well, the economic impacts are severe on families.
"Schools reopened in early May but many disadvantaged children in mountainous and remote regions are not able to return to schools and are at threat of exploitation in child labour or early marriage,” she said.
According to a representative of Blue Dragon in Việt Nam, several fund-raising activities of the organisation have been cancelled since the beginning of this year due to social distancing policies. Meanwhile, the number of people seeking help has increased greatly, especially from homeless children, girls and families living in remote mountainous areas.
Phượng said since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blue Dragon has met twice the usual number of children sleeping rough on the streets. Nearly 20 per cent of these are under five years old.
The number of families seeking emergency food aid has doubled and the organisation received 31 calls for help from girls and women trapped in sexual slavery.
Phượng decided she had to help Vietnamese children in this difficult time.
Although winter is coming in Australia, Phượng has kept up her walking.
She said she was going to “feel warmer this coming winter” by taking up the challenge and giving a hand to children.
As of June 11, her campaign has raised more than AUD1,800 (VNĐ29 million) from more than 20 Vietnamese and foreign donors, almost reaching the target of AUD2,000.
She hopes her challenge would not only help raise funds but also increase public awareness of Vietnamese people in Australia over the meaningful action.
In Australia, Phượng is an active member of a charity group named ‘New Sunlight for Children’ consisting of about 200 Vietnamese families living and working in Sydney. They raise funds to help disadvantaged children in Việt Nam to go to school through local charity organisations such as Blue Dragon, Cơm Có Thịt (Only Rice is not Enough), Bình Định Chung Tay (Bình Định Joining Hands) and Lê Quý Đôn Nối Vòng Tay Lớn (Lê Quý Đôn Makes Great Arm Circle).
The charity work brings the Vietnamese community in Australia together and helps preserve traditional identities.
A representative of New Sunlight for Children group told vietnamplus.vn that as of early June, the group had supported 15 Vietnamese children living in disadvantaged circumstances to have chances to go to school through Blue Dragon Children's Foundation and Bình Định Chung Tay. The donations reached AUD2,700 (more than VNĐ40 million).
The group has also donated AUD1,200 (VNĐ19.5 million) to Blue Dragon to support disadvantaged children heavily affected by the pandemic.
Since the group was established in 2015, New Sunlight for Children has made donations and offered monthly scholarships to children from poor families or living under difficult circumstances in Thừa Thiên-Huế, Bắc Giang, Bình Định, Hà Tĩnh, Thái Bình provinces, and Đà Nẵng City.
As of the end of 2019, the total donation sent back to Việt Nam by the group passed AUD35,000 (more than VNĐ550 million). — VNS