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MC Phan Anh Raises VND10bn to Help Flood-Stricken Central Vietnam

In Vietnam, Facebook has the power to rally thousands of people and mobilize billions of dong.

Last week, a bout of extreme rainfall coupled with the ill-advised water discharge of two local hydropower plants inundated several provinces in central Vietnam. As a result, 35 people have lost their lives while more than 100,000 others have lost their homes. The region’s economy, utilities and transportation systems are also paralyzed, hindering rescue efforts and disrupting the North-South train service.

The historic flooding was not only unprecedented in its massive scale but also in the generous display of altruism among local netizens, starting with MC Phan Anh, a notable reality TV host and social media influencer. On October 16, a few days after the deluge hit central Vietnam, Phan Anh uploaded a message on his Facebook account announcing that he would travel to the disaster area, bringing along food, aid money and water purification powder to assist impacted families.

The post included a photo showing that he had channeled VND500 million (US$22,415) into a bank account to be used as a relief fund. “I tend to keep quiet. I keep quiet [while doing charity work] with my friends. We will do the same thing in the future, because it’s charity work,” he wrote. “But this time, let me share the work with everybody. Not that I’ve changed, but [this flooding] is an exception.”

The photo, along with a call for action, went viral almost immediately, with scores of Vietnamese celebrities chiming in and praising the MC. At the time of writing, his original post had amassed some 83,000 likes and around 20,000 shares on Facebook, while commenters have also posted screenshots of similar bank statements showing that they too have donated money to Phan Anh’s account.

“I have always admired your contribution to the community and your altruistic lifestyle,” shared a commenter on the MC’s Facebook post, Zingreports. “Your action is very practical and the residents of central Vietnam need more generous people like you.”

In an interview with VnExpress before leaving for the flood-stricken area, Anh said that this trip will be the first of many, as he plans to return next month to carry out a project to help ward off waterborne diseases. “I want to help in the most sustainable way possible, so that after we leave local residents can pick their lives up,” he shared with the news source. “My charity philosophy is focusing on the long-term sustainability and not just providing immediate relief.”

In the face of hardship, Phan Anh’s initiative has rallied an overwhelming response from netizens who want to contribute but can't find an organization or individual credible enough to receive their donation. At the time of writing, the MC’s relief fund account has received more than VND10 billion (US$448,300) in donations.

Since the flooding started, other Vietnamese organizations have also chipped in, offering help where it is needed. For example, Vietnam Airline Corporation (VAC) lent a hand by offering to transport goods donated by charity disaster relief organizations free of charge. According to Tuoi Tre, flights to the flood-stricken regions – Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Quang Tri – for aid purposes will be conducted for free. The organization also added that trips through Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific and all VAC subsidiaries departing from Hanoi and Saigon to the four impacted provinces will prioritize relief goods in their freight compartments.

On October 15, Nguyen Thanh Khanh, director of the Railway Transportation Company’s Hue branch, shared with Zing that passengers who were stuck at Quang Tri’s Dong Ha station would be provided free meals and accommodation. During the historic flooding, passengers on two trains – the SE2 and SE4 – had to take shelter at the station.

“All passengers waiting at Dong Ha station will receive free meals provided by Vietnam Railways,” Khanh told the news source. “[Passengers] can return their ticket should they feel the need to. Those who wish to return to Hue will also get free shuttle service back to Hue station.”

[Photo via Zing]


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