With a little love

As I live in the so called ‘Japanese Quarter,’ I am aware ofthe huge importance of Japan as a trading partner of Vietnam these days. Forthose of you who were wondering, ‘JBAH’ stands for the Japan BusinessAssociation of Ho Chi Minh City Their association has five main functions asreflected in its organisational structure. The social activities section givesback to the community by raising funds and donating needed goods to charity. Irecently had the honour of accompanying my Japanese friends on two greatlycontrasting donation missions. The first was to help the Lam Quang Buddhisttemple situated in a poor alley of District Eight where behind its shrines,nuns take care of hundreds of infirm and homeless elderly ladies between theages of fifty to ninety lacking in family support. The second is an orphanageof mainly unwanted children set up by a rich industrialist lady in the Di AnDistrict, a factory area of Binh Duong Province, but still within the Saigonconglomeration.

The Association does have its administrative staff, but allthe people I accompanied on these two early days were volunteer businessmen andwomen. The donation was the culmination of many freely given hours of fundraising, recipient identification and meetings on what actually to donate.

All the basic needs of the elderly ladies I met were beingcatered for in several wards of hospital- type beds. All the ladies I met andspoke to seemed as sanguine and hopeful as the general Vietnamese population.About ten Japanese moved around the wards making donations to the ladiesindividually, directly giving articles of personal hygiene such as tiger balm,towels and Salonpas and chatting in basic Vietnamese. I also noticed some localgirl volunteers keeping their elders company. I felt sorry that these ladiesspent their lives indoors.

The nuns were serving humanity at the grass roots. A coupleof days later, I drove out with my new Japanese friends again. This time, theneedy were at the other end of life-orphans. The Japanese were donating fifteenthousand dollars’ worth of computers, washing machines, clothes dryingmachines, school uniforms, old clothes, rice milk, instant noodles, and packetsof snacks, puddings and ice cream. Organised on the scale of a company,including a performance stage and school and kindergarten, this is the 'QueHuong Charity’, just an hour's drive from central Saigon. Near the entranceopposite the nursery where some young French lady volunteers were holdingbabies was a picture of the founder Madame Huong with the caption: ‘Mother of330 children'. Huong made a fortune out of bottled water before turning herattention to these unwanted bairns. There was a junior master chef competitionas children donned chef clothing and prepared blancmanges from packets from theJapanese technology company 'House Foods'

These Japanese folk, I have witnessed, work selflessly forthe common good. They involve themselves directly and personally with therecipients. If you feel you too would like to donate the information is givenbelow.

The Japanese Business Association of Hi Chi Minh City
Room 1407 14th Floor, Sun Wah Tower
115 Nguyen Hue Street,District 1,
Ho Chi Minh City, email: info@bahvn.com,
www.jbah.ifo.vn Vietnam
Tel.(84)3821 9369.

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