This Friday, May 7th, head to Galerie Quynh at 65 De Tham in District 1 from 6:30 t0 8:30pm for SHARE, a project to support artistic skills for disadvantage children.

The event will include an exhibition and silent auction of 12 canvases that are the result of an action painting activity that took place in HCM City. Disadvantaged youth who are currently living at a shelter were asked to express what is precious to them. Each child was given one of the 12 canvases to articulate her or his idea. When the 12 canvases were joined together again, they formed a new picture. The canvases will be exhibited individually, but this compilation can still be seen in the video:

The whole picture, which served as the starting point of the action painting, was only visible when the canvases were placed together. At the park, the children used their collages and drawings as well as their spontaneous ideas to adorn each canvas. The 12 connected canvases formed a large map of HCM City . A unifying symbol, the “hoa mai tet flower”, was placed on top of the map, as it stands for hope–the hope of children who came to HCM City in search of a better life.

SHARE is a project of the “Disabled and Disadvantaged Children’s Charity of HCMC” to support artistic skills of disadvantaged kids. We invite artists to participate by dedicating either their time to share their skills with the children or the production of artwork that can be sold to benefit the programme. Costs for our materials are covered by money we receive from selling these products, with the remaining profit donated to the children. Currently we work with the Green Bamboo Shelter for disadvantaged boys, 5 to 16 years old.

The money is spent on education and goes directly to the shelter. For further information, please contact or


We recently spoke to Leslie Weiner, one of the three women behind Smile Group, and her documentary on Vietnamese AIDs activist Nguyen Van Hung will premier on PBS in the United States on May 10. We first profiled the work of Smile Group and the legacy of Hung in a February 2009 article, “The Teacher’s Lessons.” Now, his story will be broadcast to millions. Check out the trailer for Thay Hung: Teacher below:

For those unfamiliar with PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), it’s the States’ most widely broadcasted nonprofit public broadcasting television service, with affiliates in more than 350 locations. The Teacher, Thai Hung will appear under the banner of the PBS series Global Voices. If you live in the United States, check for air dates at

Update from Smile Group

April 14, 2010

Our friends over at Smile Group, who we’ve worked with on a few of stories dealing with poverty and HIV in Vietnam, sent us another update on what they’ve been up to. In addition to moving two HIV-affected families into better homes in the past two weeks, they’ve also had time for education, awareness and some good old fun.

The first Sunday of each month, Smile Group meets in the park. Above, Tran takes her anti-retroviral medicine with considerably less complaining than usual–so she can get it over with and on to the games.

“We’re getting much more sophisticated with our sports teams. Colored jerseys for each team.” — Leslie Wiener.

Back to the office for lunch and a workshop on healthy food and taking medications correctly with pediatrician and AIDS specialist Dr. Thinh. Dr. Thinh also does a few on-the-spot consultations.

English class for the younger kids taught by Kim, Smile Group’s intern from the United States.

This past Smile Sunday, Smile Group also welcomed a new face: Thanh. Thanh was born with AIDS and is living in a very unhealthy, unstable environment. Before his first day with Smile Group, Thanh had never held a pen or pencil in his hand. Here, it looks like he’s got lots of helping hands.

If you’re interested in getting involved with Smile Group or making a donation, check out their website.

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher

Smile Group Update

February 2, 2010

Just yesterday, Leslie Wiener from Smile Group, the organization that connected us to the families we profiled in November’s “Living Positive” cover story, sent us an update on what the organization has been up to. Smile Group provides assistance to families affected by HIV/AIDS in Ho Chi Minh City, and from the looks of these photos, they’re living up to their name and putting a lot smiles on kids’ faces.

The kids go for tutoring at the office on Sundays, where the older kids are proud to help the younger ones. Smile Group also arranges for tutoring at their homes during the week.

There’s also some time for yoga classes on Sunday, thanks to the contribution of Aussie expat volunteer Lex.

Our friend Vy looks like she takes the meditation component very seriously…

Two French interns also helped out throughout the month of January. Not only did they take the kids swimming every Saturday and Sunday, they also did fundraising, cooked crepes and staged a riveting (and sparkly) interpretation of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”!

Smile Group volunteer Ginette also returned to continue caligraphy lessons. And…

More time for music with singing classes.

And finally, this past Sunday, Duoc began an ongoing children’s rights workshop aimed at empowering the kids. Groups were given a description of an incident that violates children’s rights, which they read out loud and discussed. They then worked in small groups to create presentations.

Next up, Smile Group will be heading to the sea with the families. If you’d like to know more about Smile Group, volunteer or make a donation, visit

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher