Students bring joy to those less fortunate hinh anh 1Students make chung cakes and gift them to needy people (Source: VNA)

Ho Chi Minh City (VNA) - For the last eight years, thousands of local and foreign students from Ho Chi Minh City's universities have taken part in an annual campaign that helps those in need during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday - traditionally a time of reunion for the Vietnamese.

Though it was nearly 11pm, Nguyen The Hai, a third-year student at the HCM City University of Architecture, was eagerly giving instructions to a group of 24 students about to depart on their motorbikes to different parts of the city.

Dividing into groups of two, they headed out to streets where homeless people can often be seen to offer them parcels of gifts and rice gruel.

It was the second year that Hai had taken part in the Xuan Tinh Nguyen holiday campaign for the needy. The gifts had been bought with money that students raised at their universities.

"Tet is the time for us to express love and share with those who are more disadvantaged than us. During this time, everyone is together with their family at home, but the homeless cannot share this warmth. I feel that I'm much luckier than they are," he said.

Nguyen Ho Minh Quang, a third-year student at the university, who was part of Hai's group, said "My parents were really happy when they found out I was taking part in this activity, as well as other voluntary tasks like painting houses for the poor and making banh tet (round glutinous rice cake)."

On the same day that Hai and his group distributed gifts, about 100 students at the HCM City's University of Medicine gathered in the morning on campus to make 200 cakes.

The students' plan was to make 2,000 cakes to present to needy families and shelters in District 5, and to the disadvantaged living in the city's outlying districts and the provinces of An Giang and Tay Ninh.

Some of the cakes were a bit too small or misshapen, as some students said they had never made them before. But they were made with enthusiasm and heart.

Nguyen Yen Nhi, a fifth-year student at the university, and deputy leader of the university's Xuan Tinh Nguyen campaign, ensured that students make only one to two cakes so that every volunteer could have a chance to demonstrate their skill.

Besides making banh tet, university students are offering other services this year.

More than 500 students at the University of Medicine gave free check-ups to needy people in outlying districts and neighbouring provinces.

The students said they were also planning to donate gifts to patients at the Tumour Hospital and the Pediatrics Hospital.

At the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, students were also making banh tet as part of the annual charity campaign.

More than 700 students at the university have also planned to donate gifts to people in other areas including outlying Can Gio and Cu Chi districts as well as islands and border areas in 10 provinces of Ben Tre, Tra Vinh, Dong Thap, Dong Nai, Ba Ria - Vung Tau, Ca Mau, Tien Giang, An Giang and Long An.

So far, the students have made 1,000 square glutinous rice cakes for the needy.

The participation of foreign students in the campaign has helped enrich the charity experience for both local and visiting students.

Cambodian You Bunngov, 26, a student at Pham Ngoc Thach Medical University, said he was donating gifts to children at Tumour Hospital.

"I remember the first time I took part in charity activities in Vietnam. I followed a Vietnamese friend to a rural area to donate gifts, but I didn't know where it was. The activity helped me learn more about the culture and people of the country," he said.

Bunngov, who speaks Vietnamese, said the experience of meeting local people had motivated him to participate in the campaign each year and continue to do charity work when he returns to Cambodia.

This year, he encouraged his friends to learn more about Vietnamese culture by taking part in the programme.

Pham Van Linh, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Student Association in HCM City, who leads the campaign, said this year, besides getting high school students to be involved, foreign students were also encouraged to take part so they could learn more about Vietnamese culture.

"The students are really happy that the cakes made by their own hands are given to disadvantaged people in shelters," Linh said, adding that foreigners from six countries had participated in the campaign, with most of them from Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Republic of Korea.

This campaign, which is in its eighth year, has attracted more than 31,000 local and foreign students this year.

During the campaign's recent launch ceremony, Tran Kim Yen, head of the Commission for Mass Mobilisation of the city's Party Committee, said the younger generations in Vietnam had always been known "for their contributions to making the city more beautiful in spirit".-VNA