Free meals for foreigners wandering HCMC

By Quynh Tran   August 15, 2021 | 11:09 pm PT
Volunteers have prepared bread and cash to give to foreigners stuck in Covid-19 epicenter HCMC.

During the days of semi-lockdown, members of the 'Tam Long Chung' (Common Heart) volunteer hand out bread and cash to foreigners who could not return home because of Covid-19.
"When I went to distribute food to poor people, I saw that there were also many foreigners who had difficulties, had lost their jobs and had to live on the street. So I wanted to help them out as well," said Le Thi Lan Anh, the volunteer group leader, while giving a bag of bread and VND100,000 ($4.40) to a Senegalese man at noon on Aug. 12, 2021.


Around 10:30 a.m. earlier that day., at a store in District 7, two volunteers divided food into 150 servings to distribute to foreigners and local poor locals.
The group consists of 65 members, divided into teams in charge of cooking, providing oxygen cylinders to infected patients, distributing free meals and others. Each day, the group calls on benefactors to receive about 1,000 servings of free rice. They also supply essential items like vegetables, rice, fish sauce and salt to support people living in lockdown areas.


Each portion include one loaf of sweet bread, condensed milk, sausages and fruit.
"At first we also gave out rice, but foreigners said they weren't used to eating rice all the time, so we switched to the current menu," said the group leader.


Two volunteers drive around to find foreigners wandering the streets in downtown areas.
The group leader said that the destitute often gather on Nguyen Hue pedestrian street, Bui Vien Street, at bus stations and parks in District 1.


A volunteer hands a free meal and drinking water to a foreinger on Nguyen Hue pedestrian street. The volunteer also asked about his life and his phone number to contact him again in the future.


David, a British nationality, said that every day he wanders around District 1 and then comes here to sleep.
"I've been in Vietnam for five years now, working as an English teacher. I've been unemployed for the past three months, living on my savings. I've ran out of money about more than a week ago. I have to stay at the bus stop, sometimes fasting for two days. Now that I have been given food, I am very grateful, thank you very much to the Vietnamese people," the 52-year-old man said.


"This person is an Estonian who has been stuck in Saigon for more than a year. He often wanders the pedestrian street, so every time I go to give out free meals, I always pass here looking for him," a female volunteer member said.


At a bus stop on Ham Nghi Street, Kwon Chang Woo, South Korean nationality, receives a free meal from the volunteer group. This whole month, meals from benefactors have helped him endure the pandemic.


On Nguyen Huu Tho Street, District 7, this foreigner asked to remain anonymous.
He said that his main job is teaching English and he does not want his students to know that he is wandering and living on the street.


In addition to helping foreigners, the group also provides free food to poor people they met on the street. Everyone must wash and disinfect their hands before receiving their meals.


At 2 p.m., despite the rain, the two members still drove around looking for people in need of free meals.
Every day, the group usually meets about 10 to 15 foreigners and records their information so they could help them again.

go to top