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Birth of Zero-Cost Meal Kitchens: A Testament to a Mother’s Love

Sister Linh’s Zero-Dong Kitchen for Underprivileged Sick Children: A Parent’s Healing Effort

Sister Pham Nguyet Linh’s kitchen story has touched the hearts of netizens.

The house that Sister Pham Nguyet Linh (41 years old, from Kien Giang) rents is located in Alley 17/1, Street 10, Truong Tho Ward (Thu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City). Every day, the house is bustling with people picking vegetables and cooking rice to prepare meals that cost 0 dong for the past 6 years.

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Sister Linh is the founder of the Zero-Dong Kitchen.
Photo: Ánh Tuyết

Opening the Kitchen Out of Compassion

In the beginning, the kitchen only cooked on full moon days, averaging 100 portions per session. Later, more people got to know about it and joined to support. As the kitchen had funds, it expanded to providing 400 portions per session, three times a week. “”””When the kitchen runs out of funds, we ask for help instead of keeping a reserve,”””” shared Sister Linh. Most of the food is vegetarian and is distributed to both families and pediatric cancer patients at the Thu Duc Cancer Hospital.

Explaining the reason for opening the kitchen, Sister Linh said, “”””I have received food assistance before, so I understand. Patients undergoing cancer treatment have many expenses, including medication and hospital fees. While a meal may not be much, it can help families with their finances in the long run.”””” Sister Linh lost her daughter at the beginning of 2018 when the child was just 3 months old and diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. For five years, Sister Linh and her husband fought against the illness. Despite their efforts, they sadly had to say goodbye to their child.

Since her daughter’s passing, Sister Linh has continued her volunteer work. She shared, “”””When my child was ill, we often received charity meals at the hospital. After my child’s passing, I thought of opening a charity kitchen to support patients, which could alleviate some of the financial burdens.””””

image 117
Sister Linh’s Zero-Dong Kitchen prepares over 500 meals regularly every 3 days.

As one of the kitchen volunteers, Mr. Tran Ngoc Duc (from Thu Duc) joined after Sister Linh’s child passed away. He helps by cooking meals for the children. “”””I find it helpful to assist the children in the hospital, not only the children but also their families who are struggling,”””” he said while picking vegetables.

Giving Is Forever

In addition to running the Zero-Dong Kitchen, Sister Linh and other kind-hearted individuals have been organizing the “”””Simple Wishes”””” program since 2020. They hold it once a month at the accommodation behind the Thu Duc Cancer Hospital. The program aims to provide meaningful and joyful days for the children, helping them forget the pain of their illnesses through various artistic performances. Additionally, they receive gifts based on the children’s preferences.

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Prepared meals for the poor and cancer patients.
Photo: Ánh Tuyết

Sister Thao Nghi, who has been working with Sister Linh and the program for the past 2 years, shared, “”””I am a mother too, so I can empathize. Any wishes that fall within our means can be fulfilled to make the children happy.””””

Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Hang, the mother of My Anh, a young cancer patient, said, “”””I’ve known Linh for 8 years. At that time, Linh was taking care of her child in the hospital room. After her child’s passing, Linh opened the charity kitchen. They provide meals and snacks two or three times a week. Besides the meals, Linh organizes many activities for the children in the hospital. We share a common fate, and I greatly admire Linh’s current efforts.””””

image 119
Distributing meals to patients and the poor at the entrance of the Cancer Hospital.
Photo: Ánh Tuyết

Sharing her future plans, Sister Linh said that she not only runs the kitchen and the “”””Simple Wishes”””” program but also plans to open a lodging facility behind the hospital. She said, “”””Treatment is very complex. Many of the children come from distant places and find it inconvenient to travel back and forth for follow-up appointments. I’m building accommodations for their convenience, and I only charge a small fee for electricity and water.”””” The mother hopes to help as many children and their families as possible.

One of the children is about to celebrate their birthday in the “”””Simple Wishes”””” program. Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Tam, the mother of My Anh, a young cancer patient, shared, “”””My child’s birthday is approaching, so Sister Linh will organize a birthday celebration. Sister Linh’s program is usually held at the end of the month, sometimes in the middle of the month. If any child has a birthday in that month, Sister Linh will give them a cake or a small gift. The remaining children will receive milk and sweets.””””

Ms. Pham Thi Hong Van, the mother of Khang Nghi, joyfully mentioned, “”””Almost every week, Sister Linh receives rice or noodles from the kitchen. Sometimes, she receives meals two or three times a week. There are even special weeks when she receives four meals.””””

Mr. Huynh Van Chuynh, the father of Ngoc Thuy, also expressed his appreciation for receiving meals from Sister Linh’s kitchen. He said, “”””Sister Linh’s kitchen frequently changes the menu to cater to everyone’s preferences. Sometimes I receive rice, and other times I receive noodles.””””

(Source: Thanh Nien Newspaper)

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