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Hello. My name is Dang Dung. I am from the beautiful country, Vietnam.
I was born in a remote countryside in the northern province of Vietnam called Thai Nguyen. I had a very difficult childhood, grew up in poverty and had to work in the fields and tea plantations as a child to help my parents earn a living. I was unable to go to a school as my parents couldn’t afford my education and we all had to work very hard to be able to have food for our large family of my parents and 5 siblings.
But, despite all the challenges in my life, I have never accepted defeat and have tried to face all the adversities and circumstances bravely on my own. I have tried to learn new things myself and have been always optimistic towards life and have moved on with determination since my early childhood days.
One thing which I can say confidently about myself is that I am a quick learner and have an ability to take up any kind of work quickly and I put in all my effort in doing it with dedication and sincerity. I have always learnt to survive as there has been no other option for me but to find all possible means of surviving amidst all the storms.
I am not educated and have not got the opportunity to go to school and learn from teachers, but I have so many difficult experiences which life has taught me. I have grown stronger mentally and have faced all the problems which have come into my life after the untimely demise of my father when I was a child which put our family into more hardship. I can still remember the days when our mother could give me and my siblings just rice with water for dinner and there were some days when we had to starve due to lack of money.
I have yet never given up and have tried hard to work to support myself and my family ever since I have been a child.
After I grew up, I got married at an early age, but life was unkind to me even here as my husband threw out me and my newborn child from his home in the middle of the night after two years of our marriage as I was not able to bring enough money for his family.
Clinging to my child and walking in the streets at night with tears in my eyes, scared and with deep anger seething inside me, I promised to my child that I would do all that it takes to raise her on my own and give her a good future so that she would not have to see the dark days and nights that I have seen in my life.
Because I don’t have any degree and education, I have been able to find only manual jobs as worker in shops, waitress in restaurants or laborer in fields, but I have been doing all kinds of jobs that I could find, working long shifts to support my child and mother. I have enrolled my child to a school and have been striving hard to ensure that she has a good education, something which I was not fortunate with.
While working in some restaurants as a waitress, I always used to be fascinated by the chefs cooking in the kitchen and I used to observe the way they cook and learn from them. I developed a passion for cooking and dreamt of opening a small food stall in the future. Being a quick learner, I was able to learn a lot about working in the kitchen and cooking food for customers and I realized that this is something where my passion lies, and I was determined to build a future for myself in this business. I had always been cooking for my family and even though frugal, they always used to love whatever I cooked which used to give me lot of satisfaction.
Thereafter, I got an opportunity to go abroad through an agency and found a job in a supermarket in Singapore which helped me to improve my English, increased my confidence and exposed me to a completely different world, something which I had never seen earlier. During my stay in Singapore, I started a small part-time food catering business where I used to cook Vietnamese food for other Vietnamese people who were working in the supermarkets and salons there and this was my first experience with a food business. I was so happy when people used to compliment me saying that they loved my food and they used to look forward to my cooked meals every day.
I had no resources for the kitchen and had to cook in the shared kitchen of my flat mates but I was happy that I could at least start something for myself and it gave me lot of learning and satisfaction as well. This is was my first little step in to the food business which was a great experience for me especially as it was in a foreign land. During my tenure in Singapore, I also got attracted to Indian cuisine which I found very intersting and learnt cooking Indian food by doing research on the internet and experimenting with it.
It was also an additional source of income, though very small but for me, even a small amount of money was important. I worked in Singapore for a few years, saving every penny as much as I could after sending money each month for my child and family and then decided to return to Vietnam with the dream of opening a small restaurant with my small savings in my home which was in the countryside. My child’s education was my top priority and I was determined to give her the best I could.
I put all my resources together and opened a small restaurant in my home with my mother assisting me in running it. I would have loved to open the restaurant in Thai Nguyen city as it offered much more promise and opportunity, but I didn’t have the financial resources to do it and hence decided to start with a small restaurant in my home in the countryside which would also help me to learn the rugs of the business independently.
I specialize in both traditional and innovative Vietnamese cuisine and often cook delicious dishes which are a fusion of both. I introduced Indian cuisine cuisine in my restaurant which became very popular and guests kept coming back which was a very positive sign. I received very good feedback for my cooking and I was very happy with all the appreciation I received. Customer service has been my top priority and I believe in creating memorable experiences for my guests. This is the reason why most of my business at my restaurant came from repeat customers which is something that I am very proud of.
However, though the customer traction was positive, the challenge was that being located in a remote area and with people used to eating at home on account of not having enough money to afford eating out, the customer traffic was low and not strong enough to have a profitable business. I was still determined to work harder to fulfil my dream and making the restaurant successful as I had to give it more time. Things were gradually improving and I was making good progress until Covid 19 struck in 2020 making the business very unstable due to frequent closures which the restaurant had to face.
I was forced to close the restaurant very often as the local authorities always wanted to be extra careful and even if there were some positive Covid cases in the nearby towns, restaurants were ordered to be closed even in areas not affected by the pandemic. My savings were getting over gradually and I was very worried about how I could survive in this situation.
In May 2021 due to the severe Covid outbreak in Bac Giang province, which is very close to my hometown, all restaurants and eateries were ordered to be shut as the government issued a strict social distancing order. This was a disaster for me as I was almost completely out of my savings by then and I had no means of earning a livelihood.
At that point of time, Ho Chi Minh City was Covid free and thus stable and functioning normally. If I was to move to Thai Nguyen city to start a business, it would have to be purely online delivery and takeaway as dine-in was stopped there for a while as well. Starting a pure online home delivery business was promising but it required lot of financial resources which I did not have. Since I have experience in both Vietnamese and Indian cuisine, I decided to move to HCMC as this is the city of opportunities and thought of starting a small dine-in cum take away/online food business to survive in this period and try to make a living for my family. I have been quite active on social media in promoting my business in my hometown and I was confident that I could use this to good advantage to build the online business here as well.
I took up a small place to rent with a small dine-in section and a very small kitchen and decided to start from scratch again and try to build the business. I was able to make a start and had started getting good reviews from the customers when disaster struck once again just as I had started some work with another wave of Covid hitting Ho Chi Minh City, putting the city in lockdown since June 2021. I was still able to sell online for a while but the government passed the order to stop even online and takeaway deliveries and I was completely stuck as people were even banned to go out of home as well which makes it almost impossible to do anything. With monthly bills to pay like rent and utilities, with no source of income, being confined to the four walls of my small room, I am in a very desperate situation.
I see so many people around me in extreme poverty and my heart reaches out to them, but I am unable to do anything for them in this situation. Earlier, in my hometown, I was able to support such needy people with food as much as I could but now with my resources completely over, I am helpless.
I am a fighter and I will not give up. I am broken but I must survive for my child and I must keep the promise which I had made to her several years ago on that dark night.
With the situation in Ho Chi Minh city not being very good and with very strict regulations being imposed, surviving in this city without any financial resources and work is extremely difficult and hence I would like to return back to my province as the future in this city is very uncertain and survival here without adequate cash balance is impossible. Travel is now restricted, and I would like to return to my province as soon as I am allowed to travel.
Having exhausted all my savings and with no means to support my child’s education and take care of my family, I am constrained to reach out to you all for your valuable contributions to help me start a sustainable occupation where I could utilize my skills and passion.
My plan is to to start a food business in Thai Nguyen city. My province has opened up for business as the Covid situation has been well controlled there. I have realized that this is the business where my true passion lies and I can do really well with some support and resources. I have generated good traction so far with my culinary and management skills in various places where I have had my food ventures and the good customer reviews have given me the confidence that I have the ability to run this kind of business successfully. What I have always been falling short of was financial resources which is so important in this kind of business venture.
Earlier, I had lived in the city working for various restaurants and I know that there is very good potential to develop a good food business there. Life in the city is very different from the life at the countryside where my earlier restaurant was. There is always a steady flow of customers and besides this, Thai Nguyen city has a huge base of students who come from different northern provinces to study in the city and hence the customer pool is very huge.
My plan is to focus more on Online and takeaway business so that it would be more beneficial during adverse situations like the Covid period and more people looking at ordering online even in the future. I plan to have a small team of delivery staff to do the deliveries within the city. I would also have a dine-in space as well and aim to build a sound business specializing in Vietnamese and Indian cuisine. I plan to take up a shop in the area in the city which has many office establishments so that I can cater to both walk-in customers and online orders as well which I shall build through promoting strongly on social media. I also plan to develop my own website for ordering food online after the business stabilizes.
Also, since there is no Indian restaurant in the entire province and with many foreigners living in the city who are fond of Indian food, I am very positive that Indian cuisine can draw in lot of expat customers and this can be a very good revenue stream for me. Also, with the huge base of college and university students in the city who are from other provinces and living in hostels or rented accommodation who usually eat out, they will be a huge customer base for me and I would target them through social media. Facebook and Tik tok is extremely popular in Vietnam for all age groups and I am also very proficient in using this media and hence I aim to build the business using this as an important tool as well.
I will not be able to do all this without your help. I am reaching out to all of you across the world to help me in realizing my dream in any small way you could. Even your small contribution means a lot to me and can help me in coming out of this dire situation and in building a sustainable business for myself which will help me to support my family and secure the future of my child.
The funds which I expect to generate with your kind contributions would be used to build the business as below:
- Annual advance rent for one year for the restaurant space which is a business norm in the province
- Building a kitchen with required equipment and restaurant interiors.
- Kitchen helper and service staff recruitment.
- Delivery staff recruitment for the home deliveries.
- Raw materials purchase for the initial kitchen set-up.
- Food packaging with attractive branding elements.
- Marketing expenses like social media ads, flyers, etc.
- Point Of Sale software and terminal.
- Legal documentation and licensing expenses.
- Operational expenses for the first few months of the business.
- Website development at a future stage once the business is stabilized.
As I am able to grow the business and take it to the next level, it will also give me an opportunity to help needy people in whatever small way I could, and I shall always strive to do my best towards this end. Understanding the trying circumstances which people go through is something I can relate to very strongly and I shall always aim to contribute my bit towards society as much as I can.
I shall always look forward to your inputs and feedback, please feel free to email me at [email protected] and I shall be happy to write back to you with the progress I would be making.
Thank you very much for your support.
Your contributions are invaluable to me and I shall be grateful if you could also help to promote my campaign link on your various social media platforms. Your voice matters so much for my cause.
I shall be eternally indebted to you to help me achieve my dreams and secure a good future for my daughter.
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