Many teachers in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta who completed their educational career have run a special shop offering poor residents free clothes in hopes that even people in hardship can have a clean and neat appearance.
Meager-income workers usually visit the charitable shop, which is managed by retired teachers in Sa Dec, a city of Dong Thap Province, over 150 kilometers southwest of Ho Chi Minh City.
The shop, opening every other weekday, has given an estimated 3,000 items of clothing since it was set up nearly six months ago.
The ex-educators wash and iron hand-me-downs they collected from various donors before hanging them in a cupboard of the shop.
Nguyen Thi My Hanh, a lottery ticket vendor who frequents the place, said as she has to struggle to make ends meet, having smart clothes to wear is a luxury to her.
“I tramp in scorching heat to sell tickets. I wanted to buy a coat but it typically costs over [four dollars]. Now thanks to the shop, I have it without spending money,” Hanh said.
“I’m grateful to the teachers for their help for me and other poor people.”
Pham Thi Tung Trinh, the shop manager, said she and other former teachers saw many of low-incomers wear patched shirts while working on the street, and decided to set up the shop as a way to give them nice free clothes.
“Initially poor people were unwilling to come because they’re afraid of losing respect from the community. That’s why we talked to them with care and brought them to the shop so that they could pick up the clothes they wanted,” Trinh said.
The philanthropic group’s kindness was spread so widely that donors have given them irons and washing machines to facilitate their cause.
“A set of nice clothes given is a feeling of happiness we receive in return,” Trinh said.
“Our guiding principle is that whoever has more should give, and those who don’t can take.”