A young Vietnamese woman and a Frenchman have teamed up for a meaningful project, ‘Viet Nam Oi Co Len!’ (Be Strong, Vietnam!), to give away more than 3,000 free meals each day for the last four weeks.
Tran Ngoc Anh, the young woman, told Tuoi Tre News she canceled her scheduled trip to Canada at the last minute to remain in Ho Chi Minh City.
“As a resident of Saigon, I chose to stay here instead of returning to Canada,” Anh said, referring to the old name of Ho Chi Minh City.
“Vietnam is currently struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, and I want to contribute my modest part to the war against the coronavirus.
“I hope along with others, I can help make Vietnam beautiful again and Saigon as dynamic as before.”
“What can I do to help my compatriots immediately?” Anh asked herself and then discussed it with her close friend, Jerome Ly — co-founder of Savyu Company.
They thought carefully and decided to support the unprivileged communities and frontline medical workers with free meals as a practical way of help.
“I still remember that day,” recalled Anh.
“When the city was put under Directive No. 16 on July 9, I wanted to spend some days watching the situation first before doing something, but Ly pushed me to act right away.
“He said that if we did not do anything quickly, there would be more people running into trouble.
“So we managed to help people seek a way out, especially the most unprivileged.”
On the following day, the two launched a kitchen preparing 1,000 meals, which surprised even Anh.
“We started with a small and humble step, without any pretension, we just wanted to help as much as possible,” Ly said.
“However, it soon got bigger and drew the attention of many people, the media, and trade associations.
“Many reached out to us to either give support or ask for support.
“We got swarmed but we are still trying to do our best every day.”
|‘Viet Nam Oi Co Len!’ team members prepare meals before delivering them to the needy and frontline medical workers. There are about 80 members in the team. Photo: VNOCL|
Although he had managed various large organizations in the past, this is the first time he has helped extremely needy communities.
“I’m learning every day and I hope to serve more and more people and bring them a small moment of happiness in their daily life,” Ly told Tuoi Tre News.
Despite his humble story, as an experienced entrepreneur with over 15 years of international management experience covering Europe, Asia, and Brazil, Ly has really become a perfect partner for Anh on the project.
From the beginning, both defined and organized the daily operations of ‘Viet Nam Oi Co Len!’
He has worked hand in hand with Anh in logistics, supply chains, human resources, communication, and technology to support the project so that it could grow and benefit more people.
They called the mission ‘Viet Nam Oi Co Len!’ (Be Strong, Vietnam!) with the intention of supplying meals free of charge to as many needy and frontline medical workers as they can.
In the 28 days since the project launched, ‘Viet Nam Oi Co Len!’ has given out more than 70,000 meals including 33,800 vegan portions and 37,500 meat ones.
|‘Viet Nam Oi Co Len!’ team members prepare meals before delivering them to the needy and frontline medical workers. There are about 80 members in the team. Photo: VNOCL|
‘We are all behind Vietnam now’
On the first day of offering free meals to people, Ly and Anh drove around to learn what people needed. They saw a poor mother and her son pushing a cart on the street.
Anh was moved to tears looking at the boy’s empty eyes, whose despair and hopelessness could be felt.
“We can stay home if we are not allowed to go out, we can cook by ourselves,” she said.
“But if we can’t buy something to eat, what can the poor — like the boy and his mother — do now if they don’t know where to return.”
The unforgettable memory became a source of energy that made Anh and Ly continue to try their best each day to bring meals to many more people.
“I don’t know how many free meals we would be able to provide, but each day, we do our utmost to find more financial support to continue our mission,” said Anh.
Ly wants to help people and bring them some moments of joy through a healthy meal.
“Doctors fight so hard to protect us all, they haven’t been back to their home and family for months and my thoughts go to them, we are just arranging healthy food to support them,” he said.
“Same goes for needy communities on the streets that were hit hard, we are here for you all, as much as we can do.”
|Packs of meals are ready to be carried to the unprivileged communities in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: VNOCL|
The Frenchman acknowledged that their mission can only be made possible thanks to all the amazing support from the communities and to the dedication of various organizations, including the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam (CCIFV) and the Vietnam – Hong Kong Business Association.
From the beginning, the entire French community and other large international communities were incredibly supportive of their mission, he added.
“I think they are all behind Vietnam at this moment,” Ly said.
“We all love Vietnam and want to help as much as we can.
“Many expats, French, and other nationalities contacted us to offer their support either as volunteers or meals. This is very meaningful and heartwarming.”
His kindness toward Vietnamese people during the pandemic inspires Anh very much.
“As a foreigner, he tries his best to help the Vietnamese, which makes me feel heartwarming and want to try to do more despite being fatigued sometimes,” shared the young woman.
|The image of a poor mother and her son pushing a cart collecting recyclable wastes on Ho Chi Minh City streets made Tran Ngoc Anh and Jerome Ly feel bad so they decided to do something at once to help the needy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Tran Ngoc Anh|
Flowers are in blossom everywhere – now is the time for the best photos
After waking up early, Bùi Thanh Tuyền and her friends were ready just minutes later to start their flower tour in a suburb of Hà Nội.
It took the friends about an hour and a half hour to reach Ba Vì District, 50km from the city centre. Here, they could admire the beautiful yellow dã quỳ (Mexican sunflower or tree marigold) fields that have become a magnet for thousands of people in the area.
“I just heard about dã quỳ in the north recently. I talked with my friends and we were all excited about the tour. We did not want to miss the season of dã quỳ, which only last a few weeks in the last three months of the year,” Tuyền told Việt Nam News.
“They bloom in a short period, so if you guys do not hurry you will have to wait another year!”
Tuyền and her friends shared that they had a great time together, taking photos to remember their time with the dã quỳ. They all agree that they will come back to Bà Vì next year.
Hoàng Quang Khôi wanted to relax after a busy working week and decided to take his family to the Ba Vì National Park, 10km further from where Tuyền was, to see the flowers.
“We took a bus to get there. On the way to the park, we saw many pathways with dã quỳ blossoms but here it is like a huge garden. We are in front of a big large golden carpet of flowers,” said Khôi.
“We have to get up early to get here at the best time of day, between 8-10 am in the morning, otherwise we would have to wait until 5 or 6pm when the flowers are golden in the sunset.
“If possible, I would like to camp here, spending the night in the park, and then we can see these beauties during sunrise, which would be amazing!” said Khôi, who joined hundreds of people in taking photos with the wild yellow blossoms.
Dã quỳ are visible from the gates of the park and can be seen along most of the 12.5km road to the top of Ba Vì Mountain.
In Việt Nam, the flowers are also called cúc quỳ, sơn quỳ, quỳ dại and hướng dương dại. They are a symbol of faithful love, energetic vitality, pride and resilience. When exactly they bloom changes a little bit each year, depending on the weather conditions, but it is usually between October and the end of December.
It is said that the French grew dã quỳ in the 1930s. For many years, it was considered a kind of wild plant and was regularly uprooted. But since 2015, the park managers decided to let them grow and began taking care of them. They realised that tourists love the flowers and they come back more often for them.
Dã quỳ is a member of the daisy family. It also can be found in various cool climate localities such as in Mộc Châu District, Sơn La Province, and Pass Sài Hồ in Lạng Sơn Province in the north, Quảng Trị Province’s Hướng Hóa District in the central region and Gia Lai Province’s Pass Mang Yang and Chư Đăng Ya Volcano in the Central Highlands. But Đà Lạt City in Lâm Đồng Province is the most famous destination for this flower.
Dã quỳ can be seen in various corners in the highland city but the best sites are on the outskirts. Trekkers and locals have mapped out different routes to these help tourists make the most of the beautiful scenery.
People can visit Vạn Thành Flower Village, Elephant Waterfall and Langbiang Mount which is about 13km from the centre city. Following another road, visitors can travel about 30km to Trại Mát and Cầu Đất areas in Xuân Trường District. Around 100km away are more spots in Tà Nung, Đơn Dương and Tu Tra.
This time of the year is also the season of many other beautiful flowers for tourists in Đà Lạt.
Pink foxtail grass has lured people, especially the young generation, in recent years. The grass turns pink in early November and remains that colour for more than a month. This wild grass covers the hills near Tuyền Lâm Lake, Golden Stream and Thái Phiên Flower Village.
“The Golden Stream is the most desired spot for wedding photos this season. Here, they will have a beautiful and romantic background that will make their albums spectacular,” said Phạm Minh Tài, who took photos for Tiên Tiên, a bride from Đồng Nai.
Tiên said it was not difficult to get to Đà Lạt. People have to make a health declaration before arriving in the city and follow COVID-19 instructions.
She believed that her album with the pink foxtail will be the best memory of her life.
November and December are the months of the mimosa, or silver wattle, which is native to Australia but can also be found in Đà Lạt, where it is considered a symbol of the city as it can be found nowhere else in the country.
The small yellow or golden-yellow flowers are very fluffy in appearance, due to the presence of numerous stamens. The delicate, fern-like silvery green leaves are attractive all year round. The plants become a mass of bright yellow when they flower in late winter.
A huge number can be found at Pass Prenn and Pass Mimosa.
Back to the north, Sơn La Province’s Mộc Châu plateau is a must-visit destination for its overwhelmingly beautiful white rapeseed and white plum flowers, which bloom from December to early February.
Vast white rapeseed fields in Áng and Pa Phách villages are the biggest and most beautiful, providing tourists with enchanting flowers that stretch to the horizon.
The plum flowers cover many hills and valleys. Visitors can see their blossoms everywhere, from villages to upland fields and along both sides of the highways.
Nà Ka valley, home to over 100ha of clear plum trees, has an exquisite landscape, fresh mountain air, and juicy plums that can be eaten right off the tree in the harvest season.
The next destination for flowers should be Hà Giang Province, about 280km from Hà Nội.
Tam giác mạch (buckwheat) blossoms have tiny wild pink flowers with triangular-shaped leaves, which are in season from late October to December.
The flowers typically have three colours; light pink, glistening purple and dark red. In the bright sunshine, they look like a watercolour painting. Their wild and endless beauty has seduced many people.
Buckwheat flowers symbolise love and happiness. They are cultivated for their grain-like seeds, which are used to make food specialities by ethnic people in the mountainous region.
Sủng Là, Lũng Cú and Xín Mần districts are familiar names to many that have attended the annual Tam Giác Mạch Festival.
“Hà Giang is my next destination, though I will have to check the COVID-19 pandemic control measure before travelling. I can’t wait to visit see the buckwheat flowers,” Tuyền said.
The mother of three also wants to take photos with cúc họa mi (white daisy) in Hà Nội, which has been a hot trend in the capital in recent weeks.
There are many breathtaking fields of flowers that are just waiting for flower lovers to visit, including 60ha of sunflowers in Nghĩa Đàn District in Nghệ An Province; a vast sea of Chi Pâu or swertia in the Tà Chì Nhù Mount in Yên Bái Province; and rapeseed flower fields in Thái Bình Province’s Vũ Thư District and Hà Nội’s Gia Lâm District.
Street arts festival kicks off in HCM City
HCM CITY – A street art festival, Saigon Urban Arts: Street Mural Painting (SUA 2021), will be held in HCM City from December 4-18.
The event is co-organised by the French Institute and the Goethe-Institut in HCM City with the support of the Franco-German Cultural Fund, supported by Pro Helvetia-New Delhi, a liaison office of the Swiss Arts Council in India.
During the event, Vietnamese and international street artists will paint five murals at apartment buildings at 1A Nguyễn Đình Chiểu and the walls at Mai Thị Lựu Street in District 1.
The performance will include Lưu Đoàn Duy Linh – Daes, Nguyễn Tấn Lực aka Cresk, and Lê Nhật Huy – Kleur, who won the JAM – Vietnam Urban Arts 2021 competition held by the French Institute in Việt Nam in April.
They will pair with artists Enni from Germany, Marc Lee from Switzerland, and Bouda from France to create three murals.
Vietnamese artists Daos 501 and Vietnamese-French artist Suby One, who are famous among the street art community in the country, will create their own murals.
All five art works will reflect the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.
Visitors can see the artists work at the venue from 9am – 12pm and 2pm – 5pm on December 11.
SUA 2021 aims to honour the beauty of street arts. Through events, audiences can understand more about the values of the art, including beautifying the city and connecting people.
The organisers will continue to host the festival in March featuring artists from France and Germany, workshops at local schools, seminars on street arts, performances of music and hip hop, and a street ar festival.
Ho Chi Minh City ranks sixth in top 10 cities for expats in 2021
Ho Chi Minh City recently made it into the top 10 cities for expats according to data collected in a survey of more than 12,000 expat respondents from across the globe.
The Expat City Ranking 2021, which was released on Wednesday, is part of the Expat Insider 2021 survey launched by international online expat community InterNations in January.
According to InterNations, Expat Insider 2021 respondents were invited to share their opinions on their current city of residence through questions like ‘Does it have a convenient public transportation system?’ ‘What is the local housing market like?’ and ‘How do they view their career opportunities, and how would they rate their social life?’
Thanks to their insights, the Expat City Ranking 2021 offers an overview of the 57 best- and worst-rated cities for expats worldwide.
The overall ranking for the cities is categorized into five indices, including quality of urban living, getting settled, urban work life, finance and housing, and local cost of living, with each index consisting of distinct subcategories.
Ranking sixth out of 57 cities, Ho Chi Minh City made it into the top 10 in four indices, and wound up in the bottom 10 in the fifth – quality of urban living.
|A graphic by InterNations shows the ranking list of the best and worst cities in 2021 for expats.|
In the finance and housing index, the city tops the list in the finance subcategory, with 75 percent of the expats saying that their disposable household income is more than enough to cover expenses while 77 percent are satisfied with their financial situation, the survey showed.
In terms of urban work life, the Vietnamese city was voted as the best when it comes to overall job satisfaction, with 88 percent of the expats satisfied with their profession in general.
In getting settled, 77 percent found it easy to make new friends, 74 percent are happy with their social life in Ho Chi Minh City while 93 percent described the local people as generally friendly toward foreign residents.
While 80 percent found it hard to learn the local language, 77 percent said it is easy to live there without speaking it.
In general, 89 percent of the expats said they are happily living in Ho Chi Minh City.
Last year, Vietnam ranked 19th out of 66 cities covered in the Expat City Ranking 2020.
|A graphic by InterNations shows how expats rank seven cities in Asia in 2021.|
Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur topped this year’s ranking while Spain’s Málaga came second and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai ranked third.
Australia’s Sydney finished fourth while another Asian city, Singapore, ranked fifth.
The other four spots in the top 10 include the Czech Republic’s Prague, Mexico’s Mexico City, Switzerland’s Basel, and Spain’s Madrid, in descending order.
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