Nguyen Thanh Tong: The warm heart of an overseas Vietnamese in France

Update: 10:19 | 14/01/2020
TGVN. On Calmette Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, there is a restaurant and a charity house named “Tre Xanh” (Green Bamboo). The development of the restaurant and the house is marked by “golden hearts” like Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tong – Vice Chairman of the Vietnamese Association in France, Head of the project “Looking towards Vietnam”.
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nguyen thanh tong the warm heart of an overseas vietnamese in france
Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tong.

“Green Bamboo” House (under the Ho Chi Minh City’s Children Sponsors' Association) was established in 1994, with the main task of caring for and educating homeless children. A part of operating cost of Green Bamboo House comes from the same name restaurant. The staff of the restaurant are teenagers conceived by the house. After lessons in the classroom, the children are diligent in cleaning, serving, and delivering goods. Chefs are mature, skilled people who also grew up in the house.

Over the past 10 years, in addition to supporting and raising funds for the “Green Bamboo” House, Tong has also played a role of connecting the House with benefactors in the overseas Vietnamese community as well as French friends, creating more opportunities for special children to integrate into the community.

Who cultivates the Green Bamboo

Together with the Arcueil Solidarity Association of District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (ASAH 1er), Nguyen Thanh Tong and members of the Vietnamese Association in France helped young people at the Green Bamboo House to learn knowledge and vocational training such as painting, cooking, and crafts making, as well as support skilled children to exchange and learn in France.

In particular, thanks to his initiative, with the support of ASAH 1er, the painting class at the House has been maintained regularly. Hundreds of children’s paintings and crafts have been exhibited and sold in France. This activity helps them promote their artistic talents, nourishs their souls, helps connect them with the outside world, and plays a role to create additional funding for the House.

With the love and kindness of a father, Tong has worked side by side with the Green Bamboo House. He always spent time listening, sharing the thoughts and feelings of the House’s members, encouraging them to overcome difficulties in life.

Thanks to his heart and many sponsors, many “wild bamboo shoots” (refer to children) have grown into strong green bamboo trees, completed their study and had stable jobs. There are members who are so attached to the Green Bamboo House that they are willing to give up high-income jobs in big hotels and restaurants to return to work at the House with the salary of less than a half. The important thing is that they can help the disadvantaged children.

The members of the Green Bamboo House made Mr. Tong feel touched. “They know how to sacrifice their own interests to help the House and nurture children. Then we who have a good condition and opportunity to go around, can not stand idly”, Tong said.

nguyen thanh tong the warm heart of an overseas vietnamese in france
Nguyen Thanh Tong: The warm heart of an overseas Vietnamese in France.

Do not afraid of long road

The Green Bamboo House is just one of many volunteer projects with contribution from Mr. Tong. Since 2003, after retiring, he has spent a lot of time on trips back to his homeland, became a bridge connecting the hearts of expatriates in France with difficult circumstances in the country.

Over the past 16 years, on behalf of the Vietnamese Association in France, he has implemented many projects in remote areas in all three regions of the country, approached generations of people who are in need of support, connected people who have experience in volunteer activities to join hands.

Significant projects with important contributions of Mr. Tong include: helping leprosy patients in Quy Hoa (Quy Nhon, Binh Dinh), offering scholarships for disadvantaged children, supporting people affected by floods and disabled children in Yen Bai, Ha Tinh, Thanh Hoa, bringing French students groups to help difficult localities, donating to buy fresh water filters for soldiers on Truong Sa archipelago.

Most of the projects of the Vietnamese Association in France that Tong participated are complicated, professional-oriented and in need of connection of many Vietnamese and international associations and organizations.

For many years, Mr. Tong has been travelling back and forth between the two countries, learning about the communities in need of support, planning project proposals, contacting and persuading donors, monitoring the implementation and sustainability of projects,…

Being 76 years old, Tong has not good health but his love for the fatherland, the deep sense of duty of a Vietnamese son has helped him overcome difficulties and obstacles to fulfill his mission to the homeland.

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(TGVN)