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‘Rice ATM’ in Ho Chi Minh City overflows with compassion for those in need

Friday, April 10, 2020, 12:30 GMT+7
‘Rice ATM’ in Ho Chi Minh City overflows with compassion for those in need
Staff members help the needy at a ‘rice ATM’ in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

A ‘rice ATM’ in Ho Chi Minh City is providing 24/7 access to the grain to dozens of families affected by the squeeze the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is putting on the city’s economy. 

By profession, Hoang Tuan Anh is an engineer who specializes in smart architecture and electronic locks.

Now, since the COVID-19 epidemic began putting thousands out of work, he has taken up a new job: operating a homemade ATM that, rather than cash, doles out hundreds of kilograms of rice to those in need.

The idea to design a self-catering rice machine came to Anh when he realized that gathering large groups of people to do charity work might do more harm than good, particularly as the national government has mandated a countrywide social distancing policy.

Those in need can visit his ‘ATM’ at 204B Vuon Lai Street in Tan Phu District, where all they need to do is press a button in order to receive 1.5 kilograms of uncooked rice they can bring back to their families.

Anh’s machine distributes about 500 kilograms of rice each day, the cost of which he covers himself.

Those who wish to use the 'rice ATM' in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam must stand on labels placed two meters apart. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Those who wish to use the 'rice ATM' in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam must stand on labels placed two meters apart. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

He has also found three assistants who help keep the machine running 24/7 and ensure those they are helping use hand sanitizer before touching the machine and wait for their turn in line on designated labels placed two meters apart from one another.

The project has been so successful that others in the neighborhood have been inspired to offer their support.  

"I live around here and thought this was such a meaningful act that I decided to donate 100 kilograms [of rice]," said Tran Nguyen Ngoc Diem, a resident in Tan Phu District.

"It’s important to help the poor. Even small donations can be a big help during this tough time."

After pressing a button, rice flows from the rooftop down a chute and into a bag at a 'rice ATM' in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

After pressing a button, rice flows from the rooftop down a chute and into a bag at a 'rice ATM' in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Those who wish to use the 'rice ATM' in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam must stand on labels placed two meters apart. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Those who wish to use the 'rice ATM' in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam must stand on labels placed two meters apart. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

A tank placed on the rooftop is loaded with extra rice at a 'rice ATM' in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

A tank placed on the rooftop is loaded with extra rice at a 'rice ATM' in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Neighbors donate rice to a 'rice ATM' in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Neighbors donate rice to a 'rice ATM' in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

High quality rice flows from a ‘rice ATM’ in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

High quality rice flows from a ‘rice ATM’ in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Those in need are asked to wash their hands before making a ‘withdrawal’ from a 'rice ATM' in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Those in need are asked to wash their hands before making a ‘withdrawal’ from a 'rice ATM' in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Hoang Tuan Anh (left), owner of a ‘rice ATM’ in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam hands out plastic bags of rice to the needy. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Hoang Tuan Anh (left), owner of a ‘rice ATM’ in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam hands out plastic bags of rice to the needy. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

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