18 year-old Phuc Anh, a 12th grader at Ho Chi Minh City’s British International School, has been wandering around the streets of the city’s downtown, trying to sell plastic wristbands to raise funds for her own project.
It all began in 2010 when Anh witnessed a friend in pain as her legs became disabled after a serious accident. That summer, Anh and another friend decided to found HeartSays, a charity project for the disabled, orphans and the needy elderly.
Every weekend Anh and some friends wander around the backpackers’ area in District 1 to introduce their project and try to sell as many wristbands as possible.
“Anh is a model of a young generation who performs well in academic fields and shows sympathy for other people,” said Truong Pham Hoai Chung, a teacher at the Yola institute, where Anh took a SAT course.
Currently, 15 members, including local and international youth, have raised hundreds of millions of dong for the HeartSays fund. They have donated 70 wheelchairs to a hospital in District 8, visited and given presents to an old people’s house, an orphanage and the Oncology Hospital.
“I joined Heartsays in 2011 when I learned that there are still many people who are dealing with a difficult life,” said Kim Uyen, a 12th grader at Ernst Thalmann high school.
Besides managing her own charity program, Anh has also got involved in international youth conferences. She has been chosen by her school to attend several seminars held in Vietnam and the Republic of Korea over the last few years. Last summer Anh was one of 60 delegates to join the Yale/Stanford Johnson & Johnson Global Health Scholars Program, which discusses issues on world economics, culture and society at Yale University (US).
Anh has recently been accepted into the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University, both of which belong to the Ivy League in the US. She was the only Vietnamese student who was chosen for the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, limited to 40 outstanding students each year.
“I hope to learn about healthcare management in developed countries to apply in Vietnam,” said the 18-year old who is fluent in both English and French.