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Canadian shares pandemic burden with Vietnam’s poor

Canadian shares pandemic burden with Vietnam’s poor

Thursday, July 29, 2021, 10:09 GMT+7
Canadian shares pandemic burden with Vietnam’s poor
Derek William Page pushes a cart filled with free meals. Photo: Van Tran / Tuoi Tre

Derek William Page, a Canadian national living in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, is a prominent member of a charity group which has been delivering free meals to the needy throughout the pandemic.

In the last few days, Page and his friend Tran Thi Minh Van have prepared more than 100 meals for needy residents in District 10 and Tan Phu District.

He has been in love with Vietnam ever since his first visit in 1995.

“I was astonished by how positive and clever Vietnamese people were," he said.

"It really inspired."

In fact, he was so inspired that after years of working in the Philippines, China, Switzerland, and several other countries, the Canadian man decided to make a permanent move to Vietnam

Along with Van, Page is now doing his best to give back to the country he has called home for the past 15 years.

“Derek and I run a photography studio, but the pandemic stalled our business," Van said.

"Instead of standing by and watching the situation unfold, we decided to register with Go Volunteer, a group that serves isolation centers in Go Vap District and District 12."

Their experience with Go Volunteer motivated them to seek out new ways to help the community, driving them to team up with two more friends to launch ‘Ganh Bep Tu Thien’ (Charity Kitchen).

Each day, the kitchen prepares free meals for laborers living in isolated areas in particular neighborhoods. To date, they have delivered over 1,400 meals. 

“We spend around VND2-3 million [US$87-130] each day," Page and Van said.

"At first, we paid for everything ourselves, but after a few days people started donating to our cause after they saw our pictures on social media."

Given current regulations to curb the spread of COVID-19, the two have faced many obstacles getting their charity group off the ground.

“Under current guidelines, we have to provide our meal distributors with face shields, medical gloves, and medical face masks,” Van said. 

“We also had to reduce the size of our delivery team to just three active members due to pandemic-related restrictions.”

Ganh Bep Tu Thien’s work has caught the attention of authorities who have allowed the group to use its vehicles to deliver meals each day.

“I can feel people’s happiness when they hear us coming,” Page said. 

“Everyone is so friendly and appreciative.”

Ho Chi Minh City’s current social distancing measures were recently extended to August 1.

Under these restrictions, people are prohibited from leaving home between 6:00 pm and 6:00 am, except in emergency situations.

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Kim Thoa - Cong Nhat / Tuoi Tre News

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