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Buddhist volunteers feeding Melbourne's worst affected determined to see out the pandemic

Volunteers preparing vegetarian meals (L) which are distributed in Footscray (R). Source: Supplied

Since the second wave of coronavirus infections began in Victoria, volunteers from the Quang Minh Buddhist Temple have provided nearly 900 vegan meals to people in the Melbourne suburbs of Footscray and Braybrook. They're now determined to see out the pandemic.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and prolonged lockdown period in Victoria, many homeless people and international students have struggled to get by. 

Understanding their needs and challenges, donors and volunteers from the Quang Minh Buddhist Temple have provided free vegan meals in order to help reduce their burdens. 

The temple is a centre for the Vietnamese Buddhist community in Victoria and is recognised as one of Australia’s most significant Buddhist sites.

The volunteers have been running this charity program for over three months, serving around 50 to 80 meals per week.

Các thiện nguyện viên chụp hình cùng Thượng toạ Trụ trì chùa Quang Minh Thích Phước Tấn.
Volunteers from the temple.
Supplied

Popular Vietnamese vegan dishes such as pho, rice, fried noodles, spring rolls and banh mi are carefully cooked and packed by the volunteers and distributed to people in need, free of charge.  

The locations chosen to distribute the meals are easily accessible and the organisers say they strictly comply with social distancing rules, in order to protect the health of the volunteers and beneficiaries. 

The volunteers told SBS Vietnamese they wanted to offer not only food and necessities during the pandemic but also “a helping hand to those in less fortunate situations than ours”.

Supplied

“The tireless contributions of everyone will create an image of solidarity, which needs to be spread and known to many people, not only in Victoria and the Vietnamese community in particular but also in other multicultural communities,” a letter from the group to SBS Vietnamese said. 

“We hope that our action will inspire others to do good deeds to people in need.”

Lan Anh, the international student coordinator of the group, said they planned to engage in more projects to support mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“We distribute food to dozens of international students every week, and my group talks to them a lot. Sometimes the problem is not only about food, but it is also related to their mental health. 

“Thanks to the generous financial help from our sponsors, and the enthusiasm of the organisers and volunteers, the charity program is expected to continue until the pandemic is over and people are able to get back to their life.”

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