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'Đùm Bọc' Uses Vietnamese Food to Raise Funds for Covid-19 Relief in Vietnam

Residents of New York City are in for a treat.

While Vietnam's ongoing COVID-19 outbreak appears to finally be improving, many people in Saigon and other provinces are still in desperate need of assistance.

Duy Võ and Thảo Bùi, two New York City-based Vietnamese (and previous Saigoneer Podcast guests), have decided to do what they can to help by organizing Đùm Bọc, a charity fundraising initiative that began yesterday and runs until October 21.

"It's is powered by 70% hope, 20% helplessness and 10% grief," Duy says in an email. "Just like many others, both of our families and extended families are in the thick of this devastating outbreak. The name 'Đùm Bọc' is derived from a Vietnamese proverb 'Lá lành đùm lá rách,' which can be loosely translated to 'Healthy leaves protect tattered ones.' This is one of the core tenets in survivalist Vietnamese culture. We want to do a fundraiser where we lean on the collective power of the Vietnamese diaspora to lend a helping hand for the most vulnerable folks living in Vietnam."

The core of Đùm Bọc is Việt Nomz, a rotating set of weekly US$40 menus from Vietnamese cooks and restaurants in NYC. The first selection, which started over the weekend, is from Ăn Xôi, which is run by Thảo herself and recalls her childhood days of eating sticky rice in Saigon.

The fundraiser will benefit Saigon Children and the Catalyst Foundation, with donations to the latter specifically going to a Raglai ethnic minority community between Cam Ranh and Phan Rang. There are also ongoing giveaway for people outside of New York, with more details available here.

"We’ve decided that Vietnamese food has to be a core component of this fundraiser. Food has the power to heal; food brings people together; food, in Vietnamese culture, is the language of love and of care. 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?" Duy shared.

"In addition to food, we also want to bring together various Vietnamese creators and entrepreneurs. In doing so, we hope to show how diverse and nuanced our Vietnamese diaspora is. Everything in this fundraiser is done by a Vietnamese person. It is done BY US. The donations generated from this fundraiser will go to help many Vietnamese people. It is done FOR US."

Duy added that he hopes Đùm Bọc raises overall awareness of the situation in Vietnam outside the Vietnamese community, since it doesn't receive much attention in the US.

"The current outbreak in Vietnam is not covered all too much in American media so a lot of folks aren’t aware," he said. This is in complete contrast with the beginning of this pandemic where Vietnam’s success in curbing the spread of COVID-19 was praised. In addition, there have been just so many different disasters and tragedies happening inside and outside the US that it seems nothing can stay for longer than a week in a rapidly changing news cycle. Within the Vietnamese communities across the US, there have been a few Covid relief fundraisers. The awareness is definitely there but the urgency isn’t always thoroughly conveyed."

While Đùm Bọc is only an option for people living in NYC, those wanting to help their cause can learn more through the websites of Saigon Children and the Catalyst Foundation.