Saturday, January 13, 2007

Changing Lives, Restoring Hope, one cookie at a time.

Vietnam: a land rich with beauty, rustic charm and abysmal poverty. It is a disparity that hits home, everywhere you turn: young and old alike struggling to get by.

This was what Baby G encountered on his recent trip to Ho Chi Minh. Over lunch one day, a young boy approached the table. He had no arms; in their place were stout, deformed limbs, supporting a heavy tray which hung on a string around his neck.

The boy offered a cheerful smile as he held out innocuous packs of cookies, on them a logo that read: Sozo, Restoring Hope - Changing Lives.

Sozo traces its humble beginnings to an oven mounted on a small cart. The cookies it produced gave a desperate Vietnamese the independence and skills to pave his eventual escape from poverty. Today, it continues to help many more do the same.

As G gave him a dollar for the cookies, the boy with his unwavering beam, patted him gently on his shoulder and smiled, “Happy New Year”.

We often underestimate the impact a modest effort can make, yet what seems immaterial to us can go a long way in changing another’s life for the better. So if you are ever in the neighbourhood, look out for Sozo and the kids who rove the streets selling its cookies; In return for a dollar and hopes of a better life, you’ll get a glimpse of their tireless determination and a brave smile that will humble you to no end.

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