Banh chung (square glutinous rice cake) making is a staple of the Spring Volunteer Campaign – a volunteer opportunity for students in Ho Chi Minh City universities to help provide a joyful Tet for disadvantaged people.
The event took place on Sunday, attracting over 700 volunteers from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities (HCMC USSH).
This year’s activity attracted 953 participants, all of whom are volunteers of the campaign.
The finished products were gifted to the disadvantaged people living in the Ho Chi Minh City.
|A volunteer prepares the glutinous rice for banh chung. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|As well as banh chung, volunteers also made banh tet, a cylindrical glutinous rice cake and a southern counterpart to the northern banh chung. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|Many students struggled as this was their first time making banh chung. “I always made banh tet back in my hometown, yet this is the first time I’ve made banh chung. Although the product wasn’t perfect, I was happy nonetheless knowing my cakes will reach the poor and needy,” Son Van Thuan, a 20-year-old volunteer, said. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|Happy volunteers with their final batch of banh chung. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|A foreigner assists in making banh tet. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|Mary, 56, from the U.K, said the experience was eye-opening and meaningful. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|The volunteers from HCMC USSH made over 500 cakes in total. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|A volunteer chops wood to boil water for steaming the cakes. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|A batch of banh chung is steamed in a big metal pot. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|A number of young volunteers were puzzled with the wooden kindling. “This is the first time we’ve had to kindle a fire. It felt like 'the olden days' of our ancestors,” Nguyen Gia Bao, a 19-year-old volunteer, said. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|The finished products were delivered to the disadvantaged on February 5. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The Spring Volunteer Campaign is a series of collegiate volunteering projects which take place before Tet, chiefly aimed at easing the life of the disadvantaged.
The campaign was first initiated at HCMC USSH in 2005 and developed to be a municipality-level collegiate program with participation by thousands of college students in Ho Chi Minh City by 2009.
This year’s campaign started on January 14, with about 30,000 volunteers dispatched to various regions.
The regions included the 24 districts of Ho Chi Minh City, remote and rural areas, offshore islands (including Tho Chu Island of the southwestern Kien Giang Province), hospitals, orphanages, special schools, dormitories, and train and bus stations.
Volunteers participate in donating blood, regulating traffic at bus stations and routes leading out of the city to ease traffic congestion, as well as promoting the tradition of celebrating Tet to the foreign communities.
This year’s campaign featured a “History Campaign,” aimed at commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive victory in 1968.
“I hope [this year’s] campaign will continue the tradition of the volunteering program, making our city a civilized community,” said Nguyen Thi Thu, vice-chairwoman of the municipal People’s Committee.
|Nguyen Thi Thu (middle, black cardigan) poses for a picture with the volunteers before the campaign begins. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|A volunteer donates his blood. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|The volunteers come not only from HCMC USSH, but also from other universities such as Ho Chi Minh City University of Law. Photo: Tuoi Tre|