A group of students in central Vietnam have created a vending machine that dispenses condoms free of charge to spare people the embarrassment of openly buying them at stores in the quite conservative country.
While automatic condom dispensers are not uncommon in several countries around the world, the machine students of Duy Tan University, whose campus is located in Da Nang City, have made is arguably the only of its kind in Vietnam.
The machine, currently installed in front of the office of the Hai Chau District chapter of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, is as simple as a metal box with a button and a tray for the barrier devices to come out.
There are also a screen displaying the number of condoms left in stock and a small slot for cash donations to help finance the machine’s operation.
The condom dispenser issues announcements to encourage the use of contraceptives or give warnings when someone tries to take too many condoms at a time, according to newswire VnExpress.
It will also say thanks to anyone who puts money into the donation slot.
The machine will automatically alert its creators via text messages whenever it runs out of condoms. It also tracks the number and time used for statistical purposes.
Photo: Nguyen Tan Tai
Since its installation on December 31, about 20 people have used the machine on a daily basis, VnExpress quoted the students, majoring in electrical and electronics engineering, as saying.
Interestingly enough, the machine received the most users between midnight and 5:00 am the following day, suggesting that even with a vending device, Vietnamese people are still red-faced when it comes to buying a condom.
However, Nguyen Cong Tin, the team leader, believes that the machine will increase the number of condoms used, helping reduce unwanted pregnancies or abortion.
“The machine is completely automatic and easy to use, so people do not need to be shy,” he told VnExpress.
Tin said the team members take turns to check the machine every day, adding that local healthcare centers are in charge of supplying the free condoms.
“Our biggest hope is to have a more ample financial source to have a stable [condom] supply for the machine,” he said.
The students also hope to be able to install more machines at public places in Hai Chau and Lien Chieu District in the near future.
“We really appreciate such a meaningful tool from the Duy Tan University students,” Nguyen Tan Tai, a staff member of the Hai Chau District chapter of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, told Tuoi Tre News on Thursday.
The Hai Chau youth union is the first to install the machine and it “hopes that more people will know of this condom dispenser,” he added.