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Culinary Compassion: Lecturers and Students Cook for Pediatric Cancer Patients

Although we were still a few dozen meters away from Mrs. Lê Tường Vy’s house, we could already hear the sizzling sound of boiling oil and the delightful aroma of food wafting through the air. Laughter and lively chatter from a distance assured me that this house belonged to “”””Bếp sẻ chia – Nhóm lửa yêu thương,”””” a group of love and compassion.

Ms. Vy is a lecturer at the University of Law in Ho Chi Minh City and the founder of “”””Bếp sẻ chia – Nhóm lửa yêu thương”””” (Kitchen of Sharing – Group of Love).

“”””Hurry up, everyone, it’s almost 10 o’clock,”””” Ms. Vy reminded everyone while holding a tray of hot meals. The freshly cooked food would be carefully packaged by female members, and the strong young men would load the meals and fruits onto the vehicle.

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College students packing food into containers
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About 15 people participating in cooking
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Each group is responsible for cooking a dish

“”””Today’s menu includes chicken with mushrooms, seaweed soup, various boiled vegetables, and crab soup. Some of the children are cancer patients, so there will be cases where they cannot eat rice. Parents can have the rice, while the soup is for the kids. In addition, for the very young ones, the kitchen will provide bird’s nest soup for nourishment,”””” Ms. Vy explained.

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Steamed rice and boiled vegetables
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Carefully packaged lunch boxes
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Prepared food boxes ready to go

Depending on their health and medication schedules, many children would have a late lunch. Ms. Vy explained that if they used regular rice, it would quickly become cold, making it difficult to eat. This is why the group decided to use the best quality ST25 rice, and the food would be kept in separate containers.

Nguyễn Hoàng Thục Nhi, a third-year student at the University of Law in Ho Chi Minh City, has been involved with Bếp sẻ chia for over a year. While carefully packaging each meal box, Nhi enthusiastically shared, “”””Cooking is a simple matter, but cooking for sick children requires great care. Seeing the children enjoy their meals, and the parents being happy, makes me happy too. Suddenly, I feel warmer and more motivated.””””

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Thục Nhi and her teacher packing food into containers
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Uncle and aunt dividing soup into small portions

At exactly 10 o’clock, the loving vehicle carried 300 meals, traveling over 30 kilometers from Thu Duc City to Binh Chanh District. At the same time, at the Pediatric Oncology Department of the Children’s Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, parents began to line up to collect lunch boxes.

“”””Children being treated in this department, some with mild cases stay for a few months, while those with severe cases undergo treatment for a year or more. So almost every parent remembers the meal distribution schedule. If the food is delayed on any day, they call to inquire before 11 o’clock,”””” Ms. Vy shared.

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Parents picking up food for their children at the Pediatric Oncology Department

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