Campaign in​ US raises funds for Vietnam's Covid-19 fight

By Anh Ngoc   August 24, 2020 | 09:01 pm PT
Campaign in​ US raises funds for Vietnam's Covid-19 fight
A medical worker notes on a bag of samples for Covid-19 testing in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam, August 11, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh.
A group of six women, five of them living in the U.S., have raised over $12,000 to fund medical supplies and essentials for Vietnam’s fight against Covid-19.

When Nguyen Ha said she wanted to lend a hand to the fight, her four friends in the U.S. were immediately on board with the idea.

"We all have families and relatives in Vietnam, so we wanted to do something for our homeland," Trieu Thuy Lan, one of the four, said.

"From our experience in organizing community activities, we saw that a week is the optimal time frame to focus resources into spreading our message quickly. We called it 'A week of joining hands for Vietnam'."

Along with Truong Phan Ngoc My, Bui Ngoc Thi and Doan Thi Minh Phuong in the U.S. and Ngo Ngoc Linh in Vietnam, they hatched a GoFundMe campaign to help Vietnamese regions hardest hit by the coronavirus.

In over a week the campaign raised over $12,400 for buying protective suits, masks, hand sanitizers, and other supplies for communities most vulnerable to the pandemic.

With most of them being working mothers, the women had to work extra hard.

Using her experience as a brand lead for a major beverage firm in North America, Lan, who lives in Southern California, was in charge of social media content and media support and managed the GoFundMe page.

Ha, who is studying at Harvard University and takes care of her two children and currently lives in Houston, managed the accounting and marketing.

Phuong, who lives in St. Louis, was in charge of external affairs. The founder and operator of several organizations by students and experts in the U.S., Phuong has managed to connect the campaign with over 20 organizations and Vietnamese communities in several countries, including the U.S., Japan and South Korea.

Thi, who is pursuing a master’s degree in neuroscience and behavior at the University of Massachusetts, translated content from Vietnamese to English, while My, who works in medical technology in Boston, was the contact between the group and charity organizations in Vietnam. Her job was to find donors and those who needed help.

Linh, who works in Hanoi, spent nights working on the campaign with the others.

From left to right, top to bottom: Truong Phan Ngoc My, Nguyen Ha, Bui Ngoc Thi, Trieu Thuy Lan, Doan Thi Minh Phuong and Ngo Ngoc Linh during a daily online meeting for their fundraising campaign. Photo courtesy of the groups members.

Clockwise from top left: Truong Phan Ngoc My, Nguyen Ha, Bui Ngoc Thi, Trieu Thuy Lan, Doan Thi Minh Phuong and Ngo Ngoc Linh during a daily online meeting for their fundraising campaign. Photo courtesy of the group's members.

Often the group would stay up until 1-2 a.m. (U.S. time) to discuss the campaign before beginning their daily activities at 6-7 a.m.

"We did not want to simply give the money to a unit in Vietnam, but to ensure with our own hands that every cent you donate would be used most effectively," Lan said.

The campaign, which was launched on August 16, quickly received support from students, businesspeople, scholars and in fact people from all walks of life in the U.S.

By the third day it expanded beyond U.S. shores and attracted support from organizations in other countries like Japan and South Korea. By Monday the campaign raised $12,498 as against the initial $10,000 target.

Lan said: "An 11-year-old girl named Quan in California donated $5, her entire savings for the week. She was happy to hear that the money could help buy three meals for other Vietnamese kids. There is one from Da Nang but is in Los Angeles now, who donated $50 despite being unemployed due to Covid-19."

"We were truly moved by the spirit of cooperation among overseas Vietnamese though many in the U.S., the world's Covid-19 hotspot, and other countries are also suffering due to the pandemic."

On August 21 the group transferred $5,000 to Vietnam to support hospitals and people who lost jobs due to Covid-19 in Da Nang and neighboring Quang Nam Province. The money will be used in Quang Nam's Nong Son District to provide medical supplies and other essentials to doctors, nurses and people in quarantine.

The remaining money will go to other places affected by the pandemic.

"The amount of money might not be a lot, but it represents the solidarity overseas Vietnamese feel for our homeland," Lan said. The group plans to turn the campaign into a permanent one to help in future crises.

Vietnam has had 1,022 Covid-19 cases, 406 of them active. Most of the cases were recorded in Da Nang and Quang Nam, since community transmission resurfaced in late July. There have been 27 deaths.

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