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Meet the Saigon student keeping her community fed and full

Saturday, January 11, 2020, 13:56 GMT+7
Meet the Saigon student keeping her community fed and full
Nguyen Thi Than, a 72-year-old lottery ticket seller, smiles as she prepares her much-needed breakfast using bread, condensed milk, soya sauce, and chili sauce available at a charity bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Thi My Dung, a senior at the College of Foreign Economic Relations in Ho Chi Minh City, was shocked when she walked by an abandoned charity bread box on Cao Thang Street and saw the box filled with nothing but garbage. 

Frustrated that the charity box, originally meant to help underprivileged members of the community, had apparently been forgotten by the community it was meant to help, Dung was inspired to breathe new life into the idea of local bread boxes for the needy.

She brought the bread box to the local coffee shop where she works part-time and convinced the owner to let her place it in front of the store.

Touched by Dung’s compassion, the owner even decided to donate a small portion of the shop’s daily profits to help keep the box filled.

Now, the once-forgotten bread box is filled with 100 freshly delivered loaves each day which the coffee shop staff carefully put on display in the case.

A bottle of soya sauce and a can of condensed milk are also placed on top of the box for those who wish to add a bit of flavor to their bread.   

A man prepares a bread as a woman fills her bottle with iced tea at a free bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre
A man prepares a bread as a woman fills her bottle with iced tea at a free bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Each person who visits the box is asked to limit themselves to one loaf and once the bread runs out the box is brought inside for storage.

“Many people know about our bread box and have donated soya sauce and condensed milk to help us. Some people have even bought more bread to put in the showcase," said Dang Tien Tri, the coffee shop’s 45-year-old manager.

"Together we can change the world."

72-year-old Nguyen Thi Than, a local lottery ticket seller, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the loaf of bread she takes each day from the box keeps her stomach full and enables her to save a bit of extra money to take care of her sick husband in her hometown.

Different from regular bread boxes, Dung’s free bread box is not only 'sweet' because of the condensed milk, but also because of the love of the many people who contribute to its upkeep in order to help the community.

College student Nguyen Thi My Dung cleans a container which she uses to store free bread for those in need in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre
College student Nguyen Thi My Dung cleans a container which she uses to store free bread for those in need in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre
Coffee shop manager Dang Tien Tri and his staff carry a charity bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung onto the sidewalk in Ho Chi Minh City at 6:30 am in the morning. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre
Coffee shop manager Dang Tien Tri and his staff carry a charity bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung onto the sidewalk in Ho Chi Minh City at 6:30 am in the morning. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre
Delicious loaves of bread are neatly stored in a charity bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung . Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre
Delicious loaves of bread are neatly stored in a charity bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre
A man prepares his breakfast using bread, condensed milk, soya sauce, and chili sauce available at a charity bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre
A man prepares his breakfast using bread, condensed milk, soya sauce, and chili sauce available at a charity bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre
A charity bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung is located at one end of Le Van Sy Bridge in District 3, Ho Chi Minh city. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre
A charity bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung is located at one end of Le Van Sy Bridge in District 3, Ho Chi Minh city. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre
A man restocks condensed milk at a charity bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre
A man restocks condensed milk at a charity bread box donated by college student Nguyen Thi My Dung in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

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