Vietnamese Donate Food & Money To Lottery Ticket Sellers Who Lost Their Income Due To The COVID-19 Pandemic

Roadside sellers have been banned from selling tickets since 1st April

Starting from this month, lottery ticket sellers across the country will stop working according to the Prime Minister’s orders, in order to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Full-time lottery ticket sellers, mostly elderly, had to wander around the streets of Saigon, on foot or bicycle, trying to sell their tickets purchased from lottery companies before they expired.

Lottery ticket sellers earned little to begin with

For each ticket that is sold at VND10,000 (~USD0.42), the seller gains an average profit of about 10%, equivalent to VND1,000 (~USD0.042).

To earn VND100,000 (~USD4.21) per day, which is enough for 3 meals and basic living expenses, a seller must sell at least 100 tickets. For many, this is a ridiculously low income for the amount of work the sellers need to put in, but even this chance at earning money has now been taken away with the new regulation.

The underprivileged might not sustain their livelihoods through the next 14 days

Thanh Son, a movie and stage director who initiated the campaign, shared on his Facebook post:

“I used to help the underprivileged in some charity activities. Most of them are lottery sellers and street vendors, who are elderly or disabled. They rent an 8-square-meter room together. Their daily income averages VND100,000 to VND200,000 (~USD4.21-USD8.42). They can’t afford to go back to their hometowns. Even if they want to now, they can’t because all buses have ceased operating.”

A lottery seller praying
Image credit: Vân Anh Mai‎

Now that they can’t sell lottery tickets anymore, they can’t afford to pay rents or buy food for themselves. They don’t have enough to tide over for the next 14 days.

This is understandably causing ticket sellers to worry. A lottery seller was photographed by netizen Vân Anh Mai‎ praying in a kneeling position in front of the Virgin Mary statue at The Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon. In his cone hat was a pack of unsold lottery tickets, and he was also wearing a mask.

Image credit: Thanh Son

The 14-day campaign to help ticket sellers and street vendors

For this reason, a group of Vietnamese artists in Ho Chi Minh City, spearheaded by Thanh Son, kicked off a 14-day campaign to support these lottery sellers and street vendors whose incomes are affected by COVID-19.

An old man selling lottery tickets in the rain
Image credit:
Vân Anh Mai‎

The campaign board members include Hong Van and Bui Dai Nghia, a renowned stage director and TV host in Saigon, respectively. Thanh Son also tagged a number of local celebrities who are joining the campaign, such as singer Nhat Kim Anh, actress Trinh Kim Chi, and comedian Nguyen Tien Luat.

The campaign calls the public to donate money or groceries such as rice and instant noodles. Anyone can donate these food items or even sell them to Thanh Son at a reasonable price.

At the same time, the board members will contact the municipalities of District 4, District 6, District 7, Binh Tan District, Tan Phu District, and Binh Thanh District for support. These areas are home to a large number of lottery sellers and street vendors in town.

An old lady taking her grandchild to school on a bicycle, while holding a pack of lottery tickets to be sold in her left hand
Image credit: Katherine Pham‎

In response to this call for contributions, Sông Hương Foods – SHF was one of the first donors, donating a large number of kimchi and pickles.

Ensuring that donations go to the right people

Thanh Son also asked netizens to notify him or the campaign board members the details of those they knew who needed help, prioritizing lottery sellers and street vendors.

To provide them with appropriate help, he asked them to include the names of individual sellers, their address, the lottery company of the tickets they sold, the telephone number of the seller or the lottery company, the number of family members of each seller, their health condition, and a photo of the seller if any.

Thanh Son also asked netizens to not ask for donations on behalf of local poor households who were not ticket sellers, as the board members themselves would contact the municipality to provide these households with separate support.

Netizens are spurred on to donate

In the comment section, many celebrities and netizens left comments praising the initiative and asking about how they can make a contribution to the campaign.

Image credit: Thanh Son

Hang Diem Thuy commented, “I don’t have much. But I’d like to donate 8 boxes of instant noodles. Please send me the address, I’ll ship them over. Thank you.”

Image credit: Thanh Son

Meanwhile, some commenters screenshot their proofs of bank transfer and posted them directly in the comment section.

“Hope Thanh Son can help me transfer this amount of money to those in need during this period. Thank you very much,” commented KL Pham, adding a screenshot of his donation transaction.

At the time of writing, donations have already reached over 1,000 lottery ticket sellers.

Make a difference

If you are interested in making a monetary donation to help the sellers, you can donate online to the board members’ bank accounts. Details are here.

These bank accounts are used to collect donations only, and all donations received will be screenshot and updated on Thanh Son’s Facebook page, so donors can keep tabs on the amount of donations at any point of stage.

Those who live in My Tho Province and wish to make a donation can contact Sương Lạc for further information.

Even though the donations cannot possibly support every single person in need across the country, every little amount of help goes a long way.

Vietnamese should all join hands to fight against COVID-19

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Vietnam has exceeded 250, Vietnam is at a critical point in dealing with the coronavirus. Quarantine staff and frontline medical workers have received substantial amounts of practical and emotional support from members of the public so far. However, let’s not forget those whose lives are obscured from public view and are also struggling to make ends meet due to COVID-19.

Any kind or amount of donations from anyone at this point will help our community get back on its feet. The longer each one of us can sustain through this period, the sooner we can overcome this pandemic and return to our normal lives.

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Cover image adapted from: Vân Anh Mai‎

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Josee Ng

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