Ho Chi Minh City:
A Vietnamese entrepreneur in Ho Chi Minh City invented a 24-hour automatic machine that provides unemployed people with free rice after an ongoing nationwide ban to curb the spread of the novel corona virus.
Vietnam has reported 262 COVID-19 cases and no deaths to date. As a result of a 15-day social distancing program that started on March 31, many small businesses were closed and thousands of people were temporarily laid off from work.
Nguyen Thi Ly's husband was one of those who lost their job.
"This rice machine was helpful. With this one bag of rice, we can have enough for a day," said the 34-year-old mother of three. "Now all we need is other food. Our neighbors sometimes gave us some leftover food, or we have instant noodles."
The machine distributes a 1.5 kg bag of rice from a small silo to waiting workers, many of whom are street vendors or people who make a living from cash jobs such as housekeeping or the sale of lottery tickets.
Hoang Tuan Anh, the businessman behind the idea, had initially donated a lot of smart doorbells to hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City before converting his technological expertise to food distribution.
Similar "vending machines" have been set up in other major cities like Hanoi, Hue and Danang, according to state media.
Employees who monitored the vending machine declined to comment, but Anh told government media that he wanted people to feel that despite the current economic difficulties they were experiencing, they still had access to food and resources .
"I refer to this machine as a" rice machine "because people can pull rice out of it, assuring that there are still good people who want to give them a second chance," he said.
While many in the communist-ruled country can rely on a social security network and the government has introduced an economic stimulus package to help the most vulnerable in society, some marginalized people like Ly and her family have not received enough support.
"I read about this vending machine online. I came to see it and I couldn't believe it really came out. I really hope sponsors will do it until the end of the pandemic," said Ly and added that her family's biggest problem now was paying her rent.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)