Many charities in Vietnam from NGOs (non governmental organization), established foundations as well as community volunteer groups that have done an incredible job during the pandemic in supporting those who need it the most. These include children, healthcare frontline workers as well as communities and families in need. Kudos to the volunteers on the ground fighting for our country!
Conversely, there are also groups disguised as charity organisations that exploit those in need of assistance and treatment for their own gain. To ensure that donations, funding and efforts are channelled to at-risk communities to support their daily expenses as well as living, Vietnam is Awesome partnered with Viral Kindness Saigon, a community group in Ho Chi Minh City that highlights, supports and connects residents in Ho Chi Minh City with different charities initiatives and organizations in Vietnam including Saigon Children's Charity.
Identifying legitimacy of Vietnamese charities
Registered NGOs and organizations often have greater resources (manpower and access to a wider network of sponsors and donors) as well as more defined structures. Hence, large organisations are generally more organised and efficient in channelling donations and necessities such as food, clothing, medicine as well as other health-related supplies (masks, sanitizers, oxygen tanks) to the most vulnerable as well as those who have limited access to these resources.
Furthermore, they are also more likely to invest in long-term projects such as schools for children, education centres and community hubs that have an impact in the future.
Choose a charity to donate to
- Prepare a list of your own expectations - who do you want to support? How do you want to support (cash or non-cash) as well as your personal commitment
- Pay attention to the organisation's activities either through social media or their website
- Cross check with a representative within the organisation to ensure what they say as well as what they convey on their digital channels align
- A quick Google search of the charity organization is also highly recommend
- Ensure your findings match your expectations
I personally find worth-of-mouth recommendations very effective in this case. Many people often ask me if I personally know the people as well as charity organisations that I promote and I believe it's a key way for people (especially first time donors who are likely more skeptical) to gain a clearer picture of the charity. Hence, I would recommend to check if anyone in your personal (or second or third degree) network knows of the organisation or perhaps someone who is involved or has participated in their activities.
Here are two databases to look up official charity NGOs (NGOs that are not included are not necessarily scams):
A last tip for those who are skeptical is to purchase the food or resources and have them delivered to the organization, shelter, charities or at-risk communities that require assistance.
What is most needed right now in Ho Chi Minh City's fight against the pandemic?
Right now, especially because of the situation caused by the pandemic, everything is essential from goods to services. Because of the ongoing lockdown, people have no way to earn money, no savings to buy essentials and some can't even leave their homes to buy food. What makes the current situation even worse is that much of the effects and struggle on peoples' lives often go unseen because everyone is cooped up indoors. In the past, it was easy to simply purchase food and resources and give them to the needy, who often are easily accessible and roaming the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.
At Viral Kindness, we have a list of items that we collect on behalf of the different charities in Ho Chi Minh City (not listed in order of importance):
Rice, noodles, dried fruits, canned food/meat/fish (with ring-pulls/easy-open), pork sausages (xu xich), cooking oil, milk, baby formula, water, fresh fruits and vegetables
Blankets, mats, t-shirt, sweeter, kids clothing, shoes and flip flop for kids and adult, raincoats
Clothes can usually be donated to pagodas or charity organizations such as Shop of hope (https://www.facebook.com/shopofhope) but at the moment, such acts of kindness are limited.
Diapers (for baby and adults), sanitary napkin, face mask, hand sanitizer, vitamins, fever patches, tiger balsam, paracetamol and NSAIDs like ibuprofen or aspirin
Charities in Ho Chi Minh City
Front liner workers and residents in quarantine areas
Vietnam ơi Cố Lên
An initiative by F&B tech company Sayvu's founder Jerome Ly, Vietnam ơi Cố Lên is a non-profit group launched in partnership with FORM Foundation and supplies free meals to deliver to doctors, nurses, and unprivileged communities. Since the beginning of the lockdown, the organisation has delivered close to 20,000 meals in Ho Chi Minh City.
The non-profit also partners with local F&B operators including Baba's Thao Dien and Lion City Group as central kitchens to prepare these meals and distribute the meals. For those overseas looking for a seamless and easy way to make a contribution, you can purchase donation meals via the Sayvu app.
More info: https://www.facebook.com/VietnamOiCoLen
To Donate: Download the Sayvu app and purchase donation meals
Com Sai Gon (Rice Saigon)
An initiative by Joy Foundation, the campaign provides free meals to those in needs including the homeless and residents at quarantined areas. Each meal comes with rice, meat, eggs and vegetables.
Account owner: Nguyen Sieu Hanh
Account number: 152758685, VPBank, HCMC Brand
Momo/Phone number: 098 703 0387
Vulnerable communities and children
HCWA Hội Bảo trợ trẻ em TP.HCM - HCMC Child Welfare Association
Ho Chi Minh City Child Welfare Association is a non-profit social organisation consisting of individuals and organisations in Ho Chi Minh City having a shared interest in education, protection and child protection for Vietnamese children in Ho Chi Minh City. HCWA operates in accordance with the Vietnamese law, its Statutory, and is technically managed on child care and protection by Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor Invalids and Social Affairs.
Through its 30-year establishment and development, Ho Chi Minh City Child Welfare Association has provided resources and helped thousands of disadvantaged children and adolescents.
- Donate via Paypal or Bank Transfer: https://hcwa.org.vn/support-us/
- Send In-kind donations: Our kids and families always need dry foods, milk, rice, canned foods... (book, notebooks and sanitary products)
- Making a fundraising campaign under our name
Maison Chance - Meals for the less fortunate
Maison Change is a non-governmental organisation that serves as a springboard for orphans, street children, the underprivileged, and the physically disabled. The mix of the able-bodied and wheelchair users, of adults and children living together in a family setting, is a unique characteristic of Maison Chance. They provide housing, health care, education, and vocational training, and a place where the underprivileged children and the disabled can study and work. It also offers them the means to aid in their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
During the increasingly complicated pandemic, Maison Chance has been unable to hold fundraising events at home or abroad. Moreover, funds for projects have been reduced, to the point where several projects are no longer supported due to financial difficulties. Maison Chance is doing its best to take care of its members on a daily basis, but supplying daily meals is becoming challenging due to the budget's tightening. All contributions are greatly appreciated since great things can be accomplished with the aid of the entire community, no matter how small. With a donation of 20,000 VND, the will supply one meal for the less fortunate. We hope to raise funds for a total budget of 180,000,000 VND, which will cover the cost of 300 meals for disadvantaged people every month.
Food Bank of Vietnam
Organized by Thien Tam Foundation in collaboration with Food Bank of Vietnam, the 15-day campaign provides food, necessities as well as a daily stipend of 40,000 VND per person accessible to at-risk and vulnerable communities in nursing homes as well as shelters in Ho Chi Minh City.
More info: https://www.facebook.com/nganhangthucpham
Little Rose Shelter
The Little Rose Shelter is a refuge for young girls (12 to 18 years old) who have been sexually abused or trafficked for the purpose of labor or sexual exploitation. Since 1992, Little Rose has provided shelter, care, education and assistance to hundreds of Vietnamese girls and helped them build a positive future for themselves by offering them psychological rehabilitation, education opportunities, free healthcare and a supportive, loving environment to grow.
To donate: Food items and donations-in-kind can be sent to the Little Rose Shelter. If not, fund transfers can also be made to the shelter after which a receipt of food items purchased using the donation will be sent across.
Blue Dragon Children's Foundation is a grassroots charity reaching out to kids in crisis throughout Vietnam. Founded by local Vietnamese Vi (who was a street kid himself) in 2011, Blue Dragon Children's Foundation has been protecting girls and boys on the streets of the city. The children helped by Blue Dragon are street kids often without family, children from very poor families and victims of human trafficking and slavery.
As a result of the pandemic, many children in rural communities especially in Southern Vietnamare dropping out of school to find jobs or beg on the streets. With families out of work, Blue Dragon Children's Foundation is raising funds and emergency aid to provide immediate assistance to children and families who are hungry and living below the poverty line.
To donate: https://www.bluedragon.org/emergency-appeal/
Founded in 2006, VCF has been actively supporting the economic growth of Vietnam through healthcare and education programs for those who are disadvantaged and underserved. The work of VCF touches the lives of millions of Vietnamese in 63 provinces every year.
Lately, in immediate response to the fourth wave of Covid-19 in Ho Chi Minh city and surrounding provinces, VCF has implemented the fundraising campaign "Help Vietnam Breathe – Vì Nhịp Thở Việt Nam" to provide critical medical equipment including ventilators, personal protection equipment (PPE) and other needs for Covid-19 treatment hospitals and frontline healthcare workers.
By 29th September, the campaign raised 937,416.02 USD (~21.673.058.382 VND), donated 57 ventilators, 1 ECMO Machine, 10,050 sets of PPEs to hospitals and medical facilities around Vietnam.
Karim Schneider is a Swiss-Italian expat that has called Vietnam home since 2018. Inspired to give back to a country and its people who he loves fondly, he founded Viral Kindness - Saigon in 2020 during the pandemic as his way of giving back. Today, the charity project is a host to almost 2,000 active members in Saigon and plays an active role in highlighting various charities, community leaders and initiatives as well as supporting vulnerable at-risk groups including street children, disabled and victims of trafficking.
Our publication is powered by our community. Join the conversation on Facebook.