The fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the whole country hard. In the midst of rising infection numbers and prolonged isolation, there is a lot of gloom going on. We have put together a list of 10 stories that have come out during this tough period that we hope will put a smile on your face! 

Read on to find out how the pandemic has brought out the generosity in people, about a woman who delivered her baby on the roadside with police assistance, blood donation drives, online communities of support, Vietnamese creators making a splash abroad, and more. 

1. SOS Map connects people in need with donors 

An SOS map has been created to connect people and households in need with others who are able to give help. A website with a Google Maps API, available in Vietnamese and English, it was created by tech firm XTEK in collaboration with the Vietnam Women's Union, the Institute of Science, Technology and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Public Security women’s union. 

SOS Map homepage @ SOS website

The SOS map features two options for people ‘in need’ or who want to ‘donate’. Items included in the list are clothes, masks, protective gear, rice, eggs, and other food stuff. XTEK created the platform to assist with limited volunteering resources, allowing those able to help to connect directly with those in need across Vietnam. 10 days after its launch, SOS map already received more than 1300 registrations from those in need, and a hundred from those able to give. 

Link: https://sosmap.net

More information: https://vietnamtimes.org.vn/vietnams-digital-map-connecting-to-help-people-in-need-34436.html

2. Vietnamese artists band together to raise funds for COVID relief

An online art auction was held in August to raise funds to help a COVID-19 field hospital in Ho Chi Minh City to buy more beds and ventilators. 80 artists contributed to the auction, including famous artists like Huong Duong, Luu Cong Nhan, Le Trieu Dien, Thanh Chuong and others.

The auction raised more than 1 billion VND (US$44,000), far exceeding the expectations of the organisers. The organisers were also touched that the artists not only donated their art works, but often also gave picture frames and free postage as well. 

Xeo Chu is painting his work of art
Xeo Chu is painting his work of art @ Internet

In addition, Vietnamese art prodigy, Xeo Chu, a 14-year-old student from Ho Chi Minh City, has donated more than $22,000 to support students from low-income families who have been affected by the pandemic. The money he raised came from the sale of his critically acclaimed artwork. 

Link: Vnexpress; Vietnam Is Awesome

3. Police officers help woman give birth on the roadside 

During the first weekend of the strictest lockdown in Saigon yet, an expectant mother was on her way to the hospital to give birth. However, she found that she had started labour before making it to the hospital. 

Police officers help a pregnant woman deliver on the side of a road
Police officers help a pregnant woman deliver on the side of a road in Ho Chi Minh City @ Tuoi Tre News

Police officers at a nearby checkpoint in Binh Tan District came to her assistance. At the side of the road, one officer, named Tinh, promptly acted as midwife, helping the mother to deliver her baby. Fortunately, it was a success, and the mother and child were declared safe by ambulance staff who came to bring them to the hospital. 

Out of gratitude, the baby has been named Tinh! 

Link: Tuoi Tre News

4. Expats donate much needed O-type blood amid COVID-19 pandemic

In early August, the Ho Chi Minh City Blood Transfusion Haematology Hospital, which provides blood to hospitals across the city, said that it was running low in type O blood. It had only 640 bags left in storage, while the average daily demand was 150 bags. Nguyen Phuong Lien, director of the hospital, called on the public to make donations.

An American woman has her blood pressure taken before donating her plasma at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi
An American woman has her blood pressure taken before donating her plasma at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi @ Minh Nhat / VnExpress 

Many foreigners responded to her call and made blood donation appointments. With the appointment paperwork in hand, they breezed through checkpoints and made their donations. The foreigners also spread the word by sharing their experience on Facebook groups and called on others to join in the efforts.

Link: Vnexpress

5. Sharing on online social media groups and building a supportive community

Physically separated by COVID-19 restrictions, many people have turned to online social platforms to connect with others and to feel a sense of kinship during these tough times. For example, Facebook groups have become strong sources of support for the Vietnamese and foreign communities. 

The below screenshots capture responses to a poster saying ‘just a reminder that we are closer to the end of this lockdown than the beginning of it’ and asking for stories on how lockdown has changed the group’s members. 

Sharing on Facebook Group @ Multiple Facebook Groups in Vietnam

Several members responded with stories on how the lockdown has changed their lives for the better. Many chimed in about how they have become better cooks or have learnt more about health and nutrition. Others said they have given up alcohol or smoking. Many more members did not leave a comment but left ‘likes’ and ‘hearts’ to show support and encouragement.  

Join Vietnam is Awesome’s Facebook group to connect with others during the pandemic and for your daily dose of positive news, memes and laughs.  

6. Free meals given to foreigners in need

Understanding that hard times can strike foreigners as well, volunteers have put in effort to reach out to needy foreigners stuck in the COVID-19 epicentre of Vietnam. 

Across Ho Chi Minh City, members of Tam Long Chung (Common Heart) have been distributing food and cash to foreigners who need a helping hand. The volunteers even took the time to understand the needs of the foreigners, for example, switching to giving out bread instead of rice, as many of the foreigners’ diets were accustomed to the former. 

The volunteer gives a bag of bread and money to a Senegalese man @ Vnexpress

The volunteers did not discriminate in their good deeds and even collected the contact details of the foreigners so that they could check in on them in the future. 

Link: Vnexpress

7. ‘Zero dong apartments’ for informal workers in Hanoi

Since the fourth wave of COVID-19 struck, many people have found themselves with reduced hours at work, or even out of a job. This was definitely the case for many informal workers and migrant labourers in Hanoi. 

Without the means to support themselves and unable to go back to their hometowns, many workers have had to survive on donations, and were suffering from home insecurity. Hence, Nguyen Xuan Thong, decided to pitch in and help.

all apartments on the 8th floor to the needy for free
Thong has dedicated all apartments on the 8th floor to the needy for free @ Lenh Thang / VnExpress

Thong, whose 10-story building in Hanoi has been used for his office, decided to open up two floors for disadvantaged people to stay for free to ride out the pandemic. 

Link: Vietnam Is Awesome

8. Vietnamese movies shortlisted for Busan International Film Festival

Marcus Manh Cuong Vu’s ‘Memento Mori: Water’ and Nguyen Phan Linh Dan’s ‘If Wood Could Cry, It Would Cry Blood’ will represent Vietnam in the Asian Project Market (APM) category under this year’s Busan International Film Festival (BIFF).

APM said it has selected 26 movies out of 429 film submissions to present to the judges at BIFF 2021, which is slated for October 12-14. 

A shot from the production of Memento Mori Water
A shot from the production of ‘Memento Mori: Water.’ @ Memento Mori Vietnam

Vu said “It is an honor for us to be included in the Busan International Film Festival this year, as this marked the first major recognition for our project,” he stated. “All independent filmmakers in Asia want to be chosen for APM in their first production phases, as it is an apt opportunity that supports and motivates them to complete their films

Link: Tuoi Tre News 

9. Saigon Athletes Brave Coronavirus Fight

Saigon athletes and trainers volunteer their time and effort to COVID relief initiatives in Ho Chi Minh City. These include unpacking and sorting vegetables to distribute to needy at-risk families as well as locked down compounds where residents are unable to leave their homes. Some athletes also lend their support as medical assistants helping healthcare frontliners with checking body temperatures, taking samples and cleaning testing sites. 

Coaches and athletes of HCM City's Sport Training Centre unpack and then deliver vegetables @ Đoàn Công Tuấn / Vietnamnews

​​The athletes have even set up a charity Facebook group named 'We Love Sài Gòn', which has almost 100 members including footballers Đoàn Văn Hậu and Hà Đức Chinh. To date, the group has given close to 1,000 meals to medical staff and poor people as well as donated microwaves, high flow nasal devices, protective kits and food to the city’s field hospitals. 

Link: Vietnam Is Awesome

10. HCMC to waive public school tuition for first semester 

For our last story, ending on a high note, we have news that HCMC public school students will not have to pay any tuition fees for the first semester of the 2021-2022 school year that starts next week, as decided by the HCMC People's Committee. The education department has also requested that private schools not increase their school fees. 

Students wear masks and face shields while participating in a national high school exam
Students wear masks and face shields while participating in a national high school exam at Trung Vuong High School in HCMC's District 1 @ Quynh Tran / VnExpress

As many students do not have the equipment necessary for studying online, the department has also called for the public to donate used or spare electronic products like phones, tablets and laptops to help the students. 

Limiting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s learning is important. This support for the upcoming generations’ education is cheering! 

Link: Vnexpress

We hope that this list of positive stories have brightened up your day a little. If you are able to lend a helping hand to those in need, check out our vetted list of charities in Ho Chi Minh City that would love to have your support.