Keeping the countryside’s soul in the city

Thursday, 2017-11-16 17:27:26
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Visitors are choosing products at the market.
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NDO – With the hope of preserving the countryside’s features in the city, over nearly the past two months, members of the Mothers’ Club in Ho Chi Minh City have organised special markets every Sunday. In addition to introducing unique products from trade villages, the ‘amateur small traders’ introduced visitors to a green lifestyle with safe and environmentally friendly food sources.

Countryside market at a coffee shop

Every Sunday morning, a lot of people visited the ‘Sau’ coffee shop in Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City to enjoy the familiar atmosphere of a countryside market. Detached from the bustling world outside, this market is not noisy despite the large number of visitors. With only ten small pavilions, the market introduces different kinds of products, from vegetables, onions, chilis and peppers, to oranges and tangerines. Numerous traditional cuisines from all provinces and cities around the country are also sold at the market, including Binh Dinh banh beo (water fern cake), tau hu (tofu) from the central region, and familiar noshes from the southern region.

Nguyen Van Thiep, a resident from District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, said that: “This stall reminds me of my childhood when my family lived in Hue city. Every afternoon, I followed my sisters to the front of my house to wait for a walking tofu concession. The taste of ginger and yellow sugar, along with the smell of hot tofu, made an unforgettable flavour.”

In addition to clean and safe food, the market introduces unique works from famous trade villages. Pavilions displaying handicrafts made of bamboo, water hyacinth and lotus, as well as incense, frankincense and green tea, are placed in the middle of the market. Notably, visitors can purchase and learn about Ma Chau silk products from a traditional trade village in Quang Nam province. Ao dai (traditional Vietnamese long dresses), ao ba ba (southern women’s traditional costume) and even doll clothes are made of natural silk, attracting the attention of many people.

Opening a market for love connection

The most special feature of this market is the purpose of its formation and directions for development. Nguyen Thanh Thuy, head of the Mothers’ Club, said that: “In addition to introducing people to the specialities of localities from around the country, the market aims to contribute to preserving the beauty of trade villages. We had to travel to many trade villages from the central to southern provinces to learn about and select products for the market. Visiting the villages, we understood more about the enthusiasm and dedication of the artisans and villagers who are trying to preserve their national cultural identities. Opening up the market, we wish to help families to maintain the good habits of going to the market, chatting and learning interesting things together. In modern life, the fun moments enjoyed between family members are highly valuable.”

Notably, the heart of sharing from mothers and their children in the club has created the specialty of the market. They provide clean food which was planted, made and found by themselves. Mothers have taught their children how to earn money thanks to their own labour and they have also opened courses on the green lifestyle and environmental protection for children.

Especially, they voluntarily contribute 10%-15% of the revenues from the market to charitable activities to help children in remote areas and farmers living in difficult circumstances in poor localities. Instead of resting or going out, the mothers and their families decided to do meaningful things at the weekend. After a few weeks, the amount of money collected from the market has been converted into books for children and items for sex education for girls, as well as tuition fees and scholarships for children living in difficulties.

They also used an extracted amount to buy seed avocadoes and goats for many ethnic minority families in a difficult mountainous district in Lam Dong province. Along with the income from the market, the mothers called for donations from their relatives and friends to extend the range of their support programmes.