by Hiep Bo
Kids prefer books, not toys
"I love the beautiful pictures!" says fifth-grader Nguyen Thi Hong My, holding a book donated by the Library Project, a US-based non-profit charity organisation. "I've never seen such a beautiful book cover."
My and other students at Tan Thanh B School in Binh Tan District in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Vinh Long are among the beneficiaries of the library-donation programme.
Having begun operations in Viet Nam in 2013, the Library Project donates books to under-financed primary schools in the country.
"I don't want more toys. I want more books," says Do Hai Duy, a fourth-grader at Tan Thanh B School, admiring a beautifully illustrated book.
Tran Van Hop, a teacher at the school, says the students are excited about the new books and enjoy reading about nature, entertainment and cultural topics.
The Library Project has donated 33 sets of between 500 and 700 books each to schools in many provinces and cities.
"We buy books from various large bookstores, online book distributors and resellers," Tom Stader, executive director and founder of the Library Project, explains.
"For the most part, we have received discounts of between 20 and 80 per cent off the retail price, which allows us to provide the highest-quality books," he adds.
The organisation provides a wide range of local language children's books, including history, science, short stories, fairy tales and books for very young readers, children's dictionaries, children's reference books, and an assortment of comic books.
Each school also receives a full set of children's encyclopedias for older students. Every book is in full colour and of the highest print quality.
Blood donor spreads the word
For Bui Quang Hien, of the northern province of Phu Tho, donating blood is a source of pride.
The 29-year-old says he first donated blood three times a year between 2006 and 2009.
"But since 2010, I have donated blood four or five times a year. I know people should never donate more than three times a year, but I'm willing to do so if there is an emergency case," Hien says.
"I sometimes don't let my family know when I donate blood, but my family saw that I was healthy and later my wife and I had a healthy baby, so now they support me," he adds.
The young man, who works as a secretary for a Viet Nam Youth Union committee in Phu Tho Province, says he has donated a total of 7,000 units of blood on 23 different occasions since 2006.
Hien is now the chairman of the Reserve Blood Bank Club under the province's Red Cross, which has 500 members, up from 60 in 2012. Since 2012, the club has provided more than 20 units of blood every year.
The provincial People's Committee has praised him for disseminating information about blood donations. He is also among 100 blood donors who have received a certificate of merit from the Ministry of Public Health.
"I want to raise people's awareness about blood donations," Hien says. — VNS