Hanoi’s 2,000-dong market

Nguyen Thi Luyen was very happy to buy 12 clothing items and a blanket at the VNĐ 2,000 market (known as E2K) - a local version of "dollar stores".

Luyen’s native village is the northern province of Thai Binh. She has been in Hanoi to look after her grandmother who is ill with lung cancer since last August.

“My family is very poor and we live together with my husband’s two brothers’ families. They are also famers and earn a living from rice field,” said Luyên.

The Lunar New Year (Tết) holiday is coming by the end of this month and Luyên, as family’s first daughter-in-law, has to buy new clothes for family members, but she has little money.

“Thanks to the market, all my family members will be very happy because they have new clothes to welcome the New Year,” said Luyên.

Like Luyen, Tran Thi Muoi, from the central province of Nghệ An, who is a home helper in Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trưng District, also chose several pairs of jeans and jackets for her husband and two children.

“I’ve been at the market several times. Last time I bought a pair of shoes and text books for my niece for VND 2,000 (US$ nine cents) each. All of the things I bought are new. I’m lucky,” said Muoi, adding that many of her neighbors also shop at the market.

To Minh Binh of Hanoi said his wife likes this kind of market so much because she can bring things he hasn’t used, including cooking tools, to sell to people in need.

Bình’s wife Hoang Thu Nga is interested in collecting such items to bring to the market. “I’m very happy to do good thing for poor people,” she said.

Nga said as living standards of Hanoians have been improving, many families have new unused items and are ready to donate them for needy people. “I will call several of my friends to collect these things to bring them to the market because we think our work is significant for the community.”

She said she is pleased because her work is supported by all of her family members, including her grandparents.

The market in the capital’s central Hoan Kiem District on 3B Quang Trung Street, was set up by Vu Thi Lan, a retired public employee and five friends.

Asked why, Lan said she did not want to see new things going to waste instead of benefitting low-income people.

She calls on people who have unused goods to bring them.

"All of the money collected will be used to buy rice, milk and books for most disadvantaged households in isolated and remoted areas,” she said.

Apart from this market that opens every Saturday morning, Lan also opens another one at Gate 60, 124/45 Âu Cơ every Sunday.

“We plan to open a similar market in the northwestern province of Hòa Bình where there are still many poor people who need our things,” said Lan.

Ta Ngoc Huyen, a volunteer from the National Economics University, said she and her friends classify the donated items and arrange them to be sold.

“I’m very moved when I see a 90-year-old man happy to choose a hat for himself. He told me that he had wanted such an imported Czech hat for years,” Huyen said, and quoted the man as saying, “This TetI will wear it to meet my elderly comrades and friends.”

But Huyen said that her volunteer group had discovered that several traders buy things at the market and resell them for VNĐ40,000-50,000 ($1,8-2,3) at other places.

“These people are trying to violate our ethics that things are not for trade but for low-income people,” Huyen said.


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