Vietnam experienced in 2021 one of its most socio-economically challenging years since the implementation of the Đổi Mới reforms in the mid-80’s.
With seemingly endless months of extremely harsh lockdown restrictions which put Vietnam’s economic and social life to a complete halt, many families and individuals in more precarious employment situations lost any means to earn a livelihood for themselves or their families.
In a city populated by over 10 million people the disruption of the fine-tuned supply networks soon caused disruptions in the provision of essential goods not seen since the immediate aftermath of the war.
Luckily various grassroots organizations and individual efforts stepped in to provide relief efforts for the most vulnerable to make it through these extremely difficult times for Saigon.
Among them Robin and his team of Baba’s Kitchen which in the good times were (and will continue to be) one of our regular hosts for the local Bitcoin meetups.
The crew of Baba’s Kitchen prepared and delivered by the end of this campaign more than 100,000 meals to individuals and families in need; all financed privately by the Baba’s Kitchen team and various donors who were looking to support the efforts financially.
Among them also the Bitcoin Community in Saigon, which with the help of Bitcoiners around the world collected the funding for more than 5,600 meals - funded by donations reaching more than 23 million Sats (equal to about 270m VND).
With Saigon finally starting to cautiously remove the lockdown restrictions and enabling certain businesses to get back to production, the city is finally set to come back to life and allow its inhabitants to earn a living again.
After a summer filled with anxiety and socio-economic stress in Vietnam’s major economic metropolis, we had a chance to catch up with Robin from Baba’s Kitchen to discuss the experiences made during the relief efforts and what’s ahead for Saigon and its people.
Bitcoin Saigon: Hi Robin! With many businesses forced to suspend operations for the past couple of months, you have been keeping busy: You and your team stepped up to get engaged in charity work, providing more than 150,000 meals to the people in need in the city. How is the situation in Saigon now?
Robin: The situation now is that the authorities have cautiously opened up to let people out to start again to earn money and set the economic wheels in motion. Also for exercise, to shop for food mainly and more importantly able to carefully socialize. The stress and strain of the lockdown certainly took its toll on people mentally.
Bitcoin Saigon: The campaign has been going for several months; probably longer than we all initially anticipated. What did you learn during this time and what were some of the most positive/insightful experiences during this time? Which challenges did you and your team face during this time?
Robin: Oh! There were many challenges! Once we had decided that we were going to help people, the logistics of doing that were the first challenge. We had to get all the correct permissions so that my staff could work, so that our transport was able to come and go. Fresh food had to be found as many suppliers were already closed. Luckily the authorities in our district were extremely helpful and supportive of our actions. Together we overcame the problems.
Bitcoin Saigon: Are there some of the social activities and causes you and your team are looking to support in the future after the lockdown ends?
Robin: We are still continuing on a much smaller scale to help, for instance we still supply pizza to the children’s hospital.
Bitcoin Saigon: Many people and businesses in the city have depleted their reserves over the past few months. On the other hand Vietnam and its people are known to make things work even in dire circumstances with little means. What’s your outlook for Saigon and Vietnam in 2022 and beyond?
Robin: My experience over the 12 years that I have lived and worked in Vietnam has taught me that the Vietnamese are strong-willed, resilient people and tremendously resourceful too. They will spring back, things will take some time but I am sure Vietnam will recover. They will come back stronger having learnt many lessons from this pandemic.
One last word, I would like to thank every member of the Baba’s team, each one who worked so hard to help others in need. I am very proud of my team and also to all those who supported us financially - thank you!
The satisfaction for all our efforts is to see the smiles and look on people’s faces. I will never forget these times and experiences.
While the donation campaign (in the past several weeks any donation to the local Bitcoin Saigon community have been supporting the relief efforts by Robin and his team) has now come to an end, if you want to support Robin and his team in their efforts - they are ready to take your orders for delivery city-wide & hope to welcome you at one of their premises again very soon in person.
And if besides enjoying some authentic Indian cuisine you also like going onto the deep-dive about Bitcoin in parallel - watch out for the next local meetups.
If you would like to support the work of the Bitcoin Saigon Community - you can donate some of your Sats to us via our Donation page!!