The deed has been going on for a good seven years in the central Vietnamese city
A charitable club in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang has been continually striving for the welfare of those living in utter poverty, providing them with hot meals and necessities, over the last seven years.
The “Connecting the Hearts of Da Nang” club currently has nearly 40 members, many of whom are students, blue-collar workers, or retirees.
Despite all having their own battle to make ends meet every day, these members still manage to hold others close to their heart.
Free meals of love
The clock stroke 11:00 am.
It was an ordinary Sunday like all others, but for a group of female scrap collectors in Lien Chieu District, the day was special.
The women were going to be treated to a free-of-charge lunch from “Connecting the Hearts of Da Nang," a regular activity the charitable club would do every Sunday.
Two club members, a young Vietnamese girl and an elderly foreigner, gently handed over the meal boxes to the scrap collectors. “Please enjoy your lunch, and this is your milk for refreshment,” the girl said.
It is their polite and attentive attitude to all walks of life that signifies the uniqueness of the club members.
When the young girl delivered the meals to the sweat-drenched women with utmost regard, she also reminded them of the next distribution date, all the while filling in here and there with light-hearted jokes that made the scorching heat seem less daunting.
The foreigner, a 72-year-old expat named Tony, also managed to convey his message across with endearment, despite speaking little Vietnamese.
Even though he initially came to “Connecting the Hearts of Da Nang” as its sponsor, Tony decided to become a club member, having been enchanted by the selflessness of his fellows.
Aside from the free meal distribution every Sunday, the club once delivered 900 servings of porridge to needy patients at local hospitals.
The poor helping the poorer
Club founder Ho Thi Thu Huong strives to make sure the meals, regardless of quantity, must always be of the best possible quality.
The 36-year-old woman has shared an unspeakable bond with those living in hardship ever since her childhood, she said.
Huong recalled gifting needy people batches of cookies and other relief to mitigate their sufferings.
Convinced that many others would share her belief, in 2011 Huong founded the charitable club as a medium to band them together for the endeavor.
Initially, the club members would roam around at night, handing out suppers to those in need.
When the number of members got quite large, the club decided to switch to cooking and delivering free meals on Sundays.
As the members are not rich themselves, the club resorts to doing odd jobs to maintain funding for their free meal program.
Every so often, they will collect scrap, selling stationery items to local schools and offices, or sourcing donated used clothes for resale.
But the fundraising activities are truly an ordeal.
The other day, Huong was selling used clothes in front of an industrial park to a large number of buyers when the urban management officers showed up, dismissing the crowd and confiscating all her merchandise.
In another case, Huong and other members had to ‘evacuate’ their used clothes from a ‘sidewalk booth’ as it suddenly rained.
“But it was good fun," Huong exclaimed.
At times, Huong even sets aside part of the income generated by her small eatery to add to the club’s fund.
The free meals are also cooked at her place.
As for the 900 servings of porridge, the club members had to get up early to find an open spot to cook them, before rushing to deliver the meals to different hospitals in the city before breakfast
Besides offering free meals, “Connecting the Hearts of Da Nang” also hosts charity programs, handing over gifts to underprivileged children and lonesome elderly people in remote areas.
The selfless act has attracted many sponsors to their cause.