A ‘rice ATM’ in Ho Chi Minh City is providing 24/7 access to the grain to dozens of families affected by the squeeze the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is putting on the city’s economy.
By profession, Hoang Tuan Anh is an engineer who specializes in smart architecture and electronic locks.
Now, since the COVID-19 epidemic began putting thousands out of work, he has taken up a new job: operating a homemade ATM that, rather than cash, doles out hundreds of kilograms of rice to those in need.
The idea to design a self-catering rice machine came to Anh when he realized that gathering large groups of people to do charity work might do more harm than good, particularly as the national government has mandated a countrywide social distancing policy.
Those in need can visit his ‘ATM’ at 204B Vuon Lai Street in Tan Phu District, where all they need to do is press a button in order to receive 1.5 kilograms of uncooked rice they can bring back to their families.
Anh’s machine distributes about 500 kilograms of rice each day, the cost of which he covers himself.
He has also found three assistants who help keep the machine running 24/7 and ensure those they are helping use hand sanitizer before touching the machine and wait for their turn in line on designated labels placed two meters apart from one another.
The project has been so successful that others in the neighborhood have been inspired to offer their support.
“I live around here and thought this was such a meaningful act that I decided to donate 100 kilograms [of rice],” said Tran Nguyen Ngoc Diem, a resident in Tan Phu District.
“It’s important to help the poor. Even small donations can be a big help during this tough time.”