Children from poor families in the southern province of Soc Trang enjoy 2,000 VND meals at Truong Van Dung’s restaurant. (Photo tienphong.vn)

 Soc Trang (VNS/VNA) - Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Truong Van Dung’s family restaurant, located near An Nghiep Industrial Zone offers meals for just 2,000 VND. Poor people living in the area arrive to enjoy soup, a vegetable and meat, all steeply discounted from the usual price of 15.000 VND - 20.000 VND.
 
Early in the morning, family members go to the market to buy ingredients. They usually finish cooking around ten. Cheap lunches are ready to be served, especially for poor workers.
 
“My cousin first came up with the idea of providing cheap meals for the poor, when I first considered doing something to help needy people in the neighbourhood,” Dung, who is head of a charity group under An Hiep Commune Red Cross in Chau Thanh District told the Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.
 
Dung said that his family was very poor when he was a child. Understanding the difficulties of poverty, Dung long wanted to help other poor people, especially as his own life has become better.
 
Dung himself helps cook at the restaurant and said he is happy to see people enjoy the meals.
 
Since July 2017 when the restaurant was opened, it has provided about 100 sets of meals each day.
 
The commune Red Cross collects rice donations while Dung’s restaurant is responsible for other dishes.
 
Local resident Tran Ngoc Bich is a volunteer working in the restaurant. She said that their work was intense, as cooking for hundreds of people a day is not simple.
 
 “People donate rice or money. I don’t have money, so I work at the restaurant as my way to help disadvantaged people,” Bich said. “The work is very meaningful to me and makes me happy.”
 
Ly Thi Hue, 92, is a regular customer at Dung’s restaurant. She lives alone in her house in Soc Trang City, as her children are all working in southern province of Binh Duong. They do not support her, so she is a beggar to make ends meet.
 
Ly The Hung, 58, a xe om (motorbike taxi driver), said that his friends told him to have meals at Dung’s restaurant to save money.
 
Hùng said that he earned about 50,000 VND daily thanks to xe om business, but normally half of the earnings would be spent on food.
 
“Having cheap meals at Dung’s restaurant helps me to save more money,” he said. He added that the food there tasted good and fresh - enough for him.
 
Huynh Cuong, 27, a lottery seller, said that poor workers like him feel more secure, at least able to avoid hunger, thanks to the cheap meals.
 
Dung said that he and his family are happy to provide cheap meals to poor people every day.
 
“It will be better if more people can get the cheap meals,” Dung said.
 
Dung, like others who undertake good deeds, knows a simple but meaningful truth: sharing brings happines.
 
Sharing everywhere
 
Last year, Vietnam had nearly 2 million poor families, about 8.3 percent of the country’s total households. More than 1.3 million households were identified as near-poor, meaning they have low income per capita and lack of access to basic social services including healthcare, education, housing, clean water and information.
 
The Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs estimated that by the end of this year, Vietnam’s poverty rate could reduce to 7 percent, a 1.3 percent decline from last year.
 
Still, the figures demonstrate the critical need for individuals to share and help in Vietnam’s society. Dung’s restaurant in Soc Trang is among many organisations working to help the poor across the country.
 
Nguyen Anh Vu, owner of a restaurant that offers 1,000 VND meals on Tran Binh Trong Street in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District, said that the meals were for the poor, mostly elderly people and street vendors.
 
“Some of our customers pay 1,000 VND only, while many pay more or put money into the donation box at the restaurant,” Vu said, adding that customers able to pay full price also joined to help more people.
 
Vu Thi Lan, a member of E2k charity group, which collects used clothes and then sells each item for 2,000 VND, said that the clothes were not free so that people felt more comfortable buying them, instead of feeling that they are receiving charity.
 
The revenue from selling clothes would be used to help poor patients or those in remote mountainous areas, she said.
 
Pham Van Toi, head of the National Charity Club, said that some people were skeptical about charity activities while others took advantages of charity activities to benefit themselves.
 
“Anyway, don’t hesitate to do good deeds. Your help could make underprivileged people have a better life and the whole society more humane,” Toi said.-VNA