Vietnam in Lockdown – Emily Dallara on relief efforts amidst the economic devastation.
While Vietnam and its residents had a comparatively smooth ride in 2020, since late spring of 2021 the country and its population has been ravaged by expanding lockdown measures.
While most foreigners and expats who are in a position to leave the country have been doing so over the past two months and/or are working towards it, the vast majority of local residents do not have that choice and have to bear the full brunt of destruction unleashed by the lockdown measures.
As elsewhere in the world, the lockdown has led to an increase in business bankruptcies, unemployment, destroyed livelihoods, disrupted supply chains and soaring food prices.
While the Vietnamese people have developed over the war-torn history of the 20th century a strong resilience and the ability to endure prolonged suffering through hard times, it is undeniable that the current circumstances are undoing a lot of the rapid economic progress that the country experienced in recent years.
The lockdowns are forcing a huge toll in terms of mental and physical health on the population – and especially the many families who depend on their daily/weekly incomes from their jobs and business who are currently unable to earn a living are put in a severely hard spot.
For the first time in many years poverty, hunger and all the negative effects stemming from the halt of the majority of social and economic life are on the rise in this beautiful South-East-Asian country.
To endure the situation, Vietnam’s civil society has stepped up to provide relief to the most vulnerable in times of need.
One of these organizations doing great work on a daily basis is HomeVN, which is a Vietnamese non-governmental, non-profit organization. HOMEVN engages in four areas: Environmental protection, Education, Free food delivery, Free ambulance. With the goal to connect many hearts to share, spread love and promote sustainable development, reduce poverty and increase community participation.
Long-time Saigon resident Emily Dallara, who has just recently left Vietnam after many years to proceed her life in Northern France, has teamed up with the French-Vietnamese NGO in order to raise awareness and additional funds for the efforts conducted by the organization.
BV News: Hi Emily! You have recently teamed up with the French-Vietnamese NGO HomeVN which is one of many players in Vietnams’ civil society to provide relief efforts for the most vulnerable in a very challenging time. How did you find out about the work done by HomeVN?
Emily: Actually my friend Jess is one of the Co-founders of HomeVN and she has been working to build the NGO for a few years now. She does so much work to help children and families affected by covid and poverty in Vietnam in general, that she was the first port of call when I wanted to support Vietnam during these tough times.
BV News: How can our readers contribute to the efforts?
Emily: Your readers can simply send crypto to https://cointr.ee/vncovid19relief. This is a product built by Naomi Brockwell, who wanted a decentralized Patreon type platform to receive donations / payments. Cointree makes it possible for users to anonymously donate crypto via the addresses linked on the platform. The funds are then transferred via Cash2VN to HomeVN’s bank account. Cointree doesn’t hold any funds.
BV News: While Vietnam has seen tremendous economic progress over the past decade, the – compared to the Western World – widespread absence of state-provided social security systems means that charity and social causes are often tackled via private efforts of Vietnam’s civil society. This model puts more responsibility and agency in the hands of each single citizen to come together and join efforts in hard times. What are some of the more positive anecdotes you might have experienced in working with Vietnam’s private charity organizations?
Emily Dallara : Expats and Vietnamese who are in more comfortable financial positions have been able to put a lot of their own time and money into providing support for private charities. This involves cooking and delivering rice, meals and toiletries to those without homes or money as well as those who are barricaded or in quarantine.
BV News: The situation in Vietnam these days is pretty dire. After we all enjoyed a year of being pretty unaffected by the situation “in the outside world” – since April the circumstances have changed dramatically. This all aside – what are some of the brighter spots you have perceived during the time of the lockdowns and give you some hope for Vietnam and humanity in general?
Emily: You know, the first lockdown, as scary as it was ( in terms of not knowing what would happen next) was pretty chilled. We were living in an amazing apartment, had sun all day and had the best food delivery people ever. Pure Bowls and Bep Vo in Thao Dien basically kept us going. We also adopted our first dog, which was of course a massive distraction too. We had to isolate for 2 weeks after a trip to Da Nang and the management where we lived were super helpful at providing us with food, helping with dog walks etc.
BV News: You just recently left Vietnam at the start of the new outbreak of lockdowns in the country. What drove your decision to leave Vietnam behind for your next stage in life in Europe?
Emily Dallara : We left due to multiple reasons, one because we wanted to be vaccinated, two the lack of safety for our dogs- we were terrified that if we went to quarantine they would be left behind, and three the visa situation- we no longer could get residency based on the new Visa changes after 7 years.
BV News: What are some of the brighter spots and experiences from your time in Vietnam? And while in the current situation one probably would not recommend anybody to come to Vietnam: For which type of people do you think Vietnam might generally prove to be a good spot to be after all of this mess is over? And what are some of your best memories from your time in Vietnam?
Emily: I loved living in Saigon so much, it was the best 7 years ever. Pre-covid, Saigon was like living in a colorful dream every day. As much as weird stuff happened everyday, so did awesome stuff. Like going to see my Nuoc Mia ladies down the street, being able to try food from any restaurant in the city 24/7, brunching on Sundays by the Saigon river and just living in amazing, super well staffed condos. Our doggie getting cuddles on morning walks from the building maintenance workers who loved my babies so much, was always the best start to every day. Of course having a driver and maid and being able to really provide regular work for locals was a massive benefit too. Plus, the ability to travel around the country so cheaply and easily and access 5 star luxury for less than in Europe. And best of all, the coffee culture is just incredible- so many passionate young roasters in HCMC, Da Nang and Hanoi. Living in France, where this is barely existing is sad to say the least ha! I miss Saigon circa 2019 so so much and hope to visit once things have settled down. It’s perfect for remote workers ( so many co-working spaces!) and a really affordable, warm, friendly place to live. Give it a few years, I hope it gets back to it’s normal self.
If you are looking to contribute via cryptocurrency, you can do so via Cash2VN.
Simply enter the the VND amount you are looking to donate, choose your cryptocurrency of choice and enter the following recipient data:
Giang Thị Kim Yến
Cash2VN will void the usual bank wire processing charges on all transfers made to HomeVN via the platform.