Saigon charity box restores Facebookers' faith in humankind

By Quy Nguyen   May 13, 2018 | 09:00 am PT
People in need can take up to VND15,000 from the sidewalk box so they can grab a simple meal.

The image of a charity money box in the heart of Saigon has gone viral in recent days and drawn positive comments from many Facebookers for being a “beautiful and humanitarian” act.

The money box, which currently stands on a street corner in District 10, was the brainchild of the district’s general clinic and aims to lend a helping hand to poor people and street children who are struggling to buy food.   

The charity box has been in place for nearly two months, and receives cash contributions from staff at the clinic and generous passers-by who fill it with small change, mainly VND5,000 ($0.21) notes.

Charity money boxes are not uncommon in Vietnam’s largest city and can be found everywhere from schools and hospitals to medical centers and supermarket, but only call for contributions for general purposes.

The thing that makes the box at 202 To Hien Thanh Street stand out and raise a storm on social media is a small sign stuck on the side, which reads: “Take three notes if you are in need.”

A photo shared on Facebook shows a box of change put on the street in Ho Chi Minh City to offer to people in need.

A photo shared on Facebook shows the charity box on the street in Ho Chi Minh City.

“I burst into tears when I had VND15,000 ($0.65) in my hand, which is enough for a simple lunch in Saigon,” Nguyen Thi Hoa, 91, was quoted by Thanh Nien news site as saying.

“I moved from the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre to Saigon to try and eke out a living by collecting junk every day,” said Hoa, who is among the growing number of elderly workers in Vietnam. 

Saigon's reputation as a city full of kindness and human love has been enriched by multiple beautiful images and touching stories from across the metropolis.

It could be just a jug of iced tea amidst the scorching summer heat, bike-fixing services on heavy rainy days, bowls of rice for just VND2,000 ($0.08) a portion, or free funeral services for homeless people.

Nine million Vietnamese people are still living in extreme poverty and struggling to earn a living, according to a World Bank report released last month, which called for more poverty alleviation efforts despite previous successes.

In Vietnam, poor people are defined as those who earn up to VND700,000 ($31) a month in rural areas and VND900,000 ($40) in the cities.

According to the General Statistics Office, 8 percent of families in Vietnam were living under the poverty line last year. The number of people living in hunger dropped by 32 percent from the previous year to 746,100 in 2017, it said.

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