by Phuong Mai
Charity canteen Nu Cuoi 1 in HCM City's District 3. A white man goes from table to table with a placard that says "Ban co muon com them khong?" (Do you want more rice?).
He then heads in and returns with bowls of rice for those who ask for it.
Meet American John William Kelly, who works as a volunteer at the canteen.
After hearing about Nu Cuoi 1 which offers lunch for a mere VND2,000, or 10 US cents, for poor people, the Californian flew to Viet Nam and asked to work at the canteen for free.
Besides serving he also prepares food.
Phan Ai Binh, the head cook, says Kelly is hardworking, coming in at 8am and working until the last diner finishes.
Kelly says he learnt about the Viet Nam War during a visit to HCM City's War Remnants Museum in 2004 and has since wanted to do something to help locals.
After retiring in 2011, the 61-year-old got in touch with Helping Hand, a HCM City-based charity, came to Viet Nam and took part in its charity activities, helping the poor, orphans, and disabled people.
He comes every year to Viet Nam to do his bit for a country that was ravaged by his.
Artists of today take cues from brave deeds of yester-year
Making short films about Vietnamese history is an emerging trend among young people.
Last month two films on the 1954 Dien Bien Phu victory that broke the back of the French and helped eject them from the country by students of HCM City's Nang Khieu High School received accolades.
The clips, titled 56 Ngay Dem Chien Dich Dien Bien Phu Hao Hung (56 Days of Dien Bien Phu Campaign) and Chien Dich Dien Bien Phu 1954 (Dien Bien Phu Campaign in 1954), were done as homework by the computing science students.
They feature cartoon images, simple but lucid explanations, and lively sound effects.
Another group of students from the school made a short film about the peasant heroes Nguyen Hue, Nguyen Nhac and Nguyen Lu of Binh Dinh Province, who warded off invaders and founded the Tay Son dynasty that ruled from 1765 to 1802.
Six students spent three months to make the seven-minute-long Tay Son Anh Hung Ca (Songs on Tay Son Heroes).
Pham Aùnh Nguyet of Tran Bien High school in Bien Hoa city says the clips have simple and cartoon images and clear explanations that enable viewers to understand easily.
The three are among dozens made recently by young people, including about events like the Bach Dang Battle in 938 and 1,000 years of Thang Long (Ha Noi).
"I hope there are more and more [such] clips to help students learn history in school easier," Nguyet says. — VNS