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How Social ChangeMakers Brings People Together to Create a Better Future

In this pandemic era, sometimes we need a little help connecting with other people.

Creating connections is one of the driving forces behind Social ChangeMakers (SCM), a Saigon-based nonprofit spearheaded by Rosi Happi.

SCM began in January of this year, and followed Rosi's experience running The Happievent, a social enterprise that organized events such as a flashmob to raise funds for people impacted by flooding in central Vietnam, and an evening to support the Breast Cancer Network Vietnam.

An event to support the Breast Cancer Network Vietnam earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Social ChangeMakers.

"I decided to start SCM to focus my passion for long-term social impact in an official manner," Rosi shared in an email. "We can always organize community and charity events to support great causes, but I think it is important to raise awareness, create social change and influence social impact in a more sustainable way. I'm best at bringing people together for a good time and meaningful activities, so why not use this to connect key players in the non-profit sector and bridge the gap in the ecosystem here?"

SCM's first step was to begin organizing monthly networking events featuring guest speakers from NGOs, non-profits, social enterprises and local charity groups. This allowed people to promote their projects and spotlight their community work, while also raising awareness on specific topics.

Next came the quarterly sustainability market, where green businesses showcased their products. "We want to support these businesses and help promote an environmentally friendly way of living in the country," Rosi said. "There were also workshops about climate change and taking care of house plants. All for a greener and better world!"

But then Vietnam's fourth COVID-19 wave began, and in-person events ended nationwide by late May.

"That month, when social distancing came back into effect, I decided to bring guest speakers together for a live panel talk instead," Rosi shared. "All our activities since have been online, including monthly panel discussions, the biweekly Mental Health Open Talk, and weekly #StayHomeTogether Online Series of free community events. This is our response to the pandemic. Life does not stop. We cannot stop everything and do nothing just because we are home. We adapt and figure out ways to move forward. So our way is to continue with our mission, even if it means everything has to be done remotely and virtually."

An online watercoloring course as part of #StayHomeTogether. Image courtesy of Social ChangeMakers.

The panel discussions and #StayHomeTogether events have covered a wide range of topics, from COVID-19 vaccines and women empowerment to Zumba fitness and watercolor painting. The Mental Health Open Talks, meanwhile, offer a safe space for attendees to share their thoughts and discuss what they are going through, presenting a particularly crucial outlet for people struggling with the impact of lockdown and other pandemic-related issues on mental health. 

"I just want to bring people together for a greater meaning and build a community that focuses on 'Do Good. Feel Good. Live Good,'" Rosi explained. "People are the most important factor in everything. By connecting great people with a great mindset, we will build a strong network of social changemakers that inspire more projects for social good with a bigger impact."

During lockdown, Happi and a select few volunteers also carried out charity work through their Lockdown Kindness initiative, which included distributing food to those in need and presenting Mid-Autumn Festival lanterns to children.

Rosi distributing donations to disadvantaged children. Photo provided by Social ChangeMakers.

Her long-term vision is to act as a bridge between Vietnam's non-profit ecosystem and international NGOs and non-profits: "That way, Vietnam get even more help and support than it would by just relying on local resources."

And the response from the local community thus far has been promising, even considering the challenges of organizing and maintaining online events.

"This might make me sound like a dreamer, but I personally see changes and movements among the community since we started," Rosi shared. "In six months we have made noise, created several successful connections between local and international NGOs as well as between NGOs and businesses and inspired others to take action, and in return we are inspired by the older organizations we work with to develop ourselves and do more."

Visit Social ChangeMakers' Facebook page to learn more about their charity work and future events.

Saigoneer is a media partner of Social ChangeMakers.

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