October 11, 2021
(HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam) — Various Vietnamese chefs, artists, and entrepreneurs are joining forces in New York City every weekend in October to raise money for families and children back in Vietnam who are suffering financial hardships due to COVID-19.
The fundraiser is called Đùm Bọc, which originates from a Vietnamese proverb that loosely translates into “Healthy leaves protect tattered ones.” The goal is to provide packages of curated, homemade Vietnamese food and handmade items to support two nonprofit organizations, Saigon Children and Catalyst Foundation.
Spearheading this collaboration are a couple, Duy Võ and Thảo Bùi. Duy is an architectural designer and part-time illustrator, and Thảo is a marketing director with years of experience in the restaurant business. Both were born in Vietnam and have lived in New York City for close to a decade. They said the tragedies of the past year drove them to find a way to help however they could.
“Everything in this fundraiser is done by a Vietnamese person,” Duy said in an Instagram message exchange with The Click. “It is done by us. The donations generated from this fundraiser will go to help many Vietnamese people. It is done for us.”
Their initial goal was to raise US$8,000 which would provide food relief for over 400 people for at least one full month. They told The Click that they have already surpassed this mark.
As noted in VN Express, starting on August 23 residents back in Vietnam were forbidden from leaving their homes even to shop for food and had to rely on government aid (those orders were eventually lifted at the end of September). However, since the end of April 2021, Vietnam has had over 800,000 cases of COVID-19, half of which were in Ho Chi Minh City.
“The disparity between the US and Vietnam in terms of vaccine access is just so incredibly vast that for people like us, who oscillate back and forth in both realities, we cannot help but feel stuck and helpless,” Duy said, adding that the fundraiser is powered by “70% hope, 20% helplessness, and 10% grief.”
Despite being so far away, Duy and Thảo sent out a call to arms to strengthen the community both in the US and in Vietnam. Duy told The Click that about 20 people in total have answered the call. This includes giveaway contributors, home cooks and chefs, plus those who have helped with the website, as well as help with transportation.
“To many Vietnamese, food is not just food. It’s our resilience and strength and us coming together,” Thảo said. “So doing this is not just to raise money, but also to show the folks in Vietnam that we’re here and we see them, and we’ll do what we can to help in a bad situation.”
This weekend and over the next few weeks, there will be a giveaway for a selection of handmade items from a handful of artists and creators in New York. But food remains at the core of Đùm Bọc.
“Food has the power to heal; food brings people together; food, in Vietnamese culture, is the language of love and of care,” Duy said. “Who would be a better group of people to help us to do this than Vietnamese food makers and chefs living in our very own proverbial backyard of New York City?”