Giving hope is what drives 23-year-old Canh-Vinh Nguyen, whose charity aims to help disadvantaged Vietnamese people, both in Vietnam and in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
Ms Nguyen started the charity Canh-Vinh and You straight out of high school at age 18.
“Regardless of how much we are able to help, it’s the hope we instil in these individuals changes their day and ultimately ours,” she said.
In May she and her volunteers raised $1000 for the Western Health Foundation, to provide extra support for local hospital staff in the pandemic.
“Our contribution in the Western Suburbs is priceless in terms of how we bring the community together,” she said.
People with Vietnamese ancestry make up 16 per cent of the Brimbank population – the most common ancestry in the area, according to the 2016 Census.
This year her charity has distributed 500 food parcels to elderly, homeless and disabled people in Vietnam who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a Vietnamese-Australian, she has a strong connection to her heritage and is dedicated to serving those who are less fortunate in her community.
Ms Nguyen said her extensive extra-curricular experience at high school, including volunteering at the Marian Leos Club and Vinnies, sparked a continuing passion in her for helping others.
“Being exposed to what was happening and the social injustices inspired me,” she said.
Canh-Vinh and You volunteer Nick Giourmas said Ms Nguyen helped others in need with no ulterior motive.
“She works harder and longer for Canh-Vinh and You than some people I know that work a paying job, for no monetary value but for a gift way more important,” he said.
“The time that she invests into her work with all of her other commitments of uni and tutoring, for no other reason but to help those in need is honestly astounding.”
On top of her charity work, she also volunteers at Sunshine Hospital and is studying a Bachelor of Biomedicine at Victoria University.
Serving the community through protecting people’s health is another passion, she said. Having multiple motivations for her overarching goal is important to her.
“These people are not a number, they are individuals. Once I see the people I am reaching out to, I think to myself, how could I not be doing it?” she said.
Ms Nguyen said she wants to continue doing more community based projects, and to bring more youth representation in charity work.