STREETBOYS AND CHRISTMAS
(from the column SAIGON NOTES---byline Daniel Cameron---in the Saigon Post, December 18, 1970)
STREETBOYS & CHRISTMAS
The bui doi (streetboys) ask to shine your shoes or sell you a paper or they just wander around looking for something. Most are either orphans or runaways from a cruel domestic situation.
In March 1968 ex-Bostonian actor Dick Hughes founded the Shoeshine Boys Project at 195 Pham Ngu Lao Street, Here the bui doi could eat, sleep, wash, and have the feeling that somebody cares. Dick's original project has expanded to three sites in Saigon, housing 125 boys, and one in Danang with 30 boys. Not a bureaucracy, it receives no aid from any government. A few businesses have contributed.
Thanks to Mrs. Minh Ha, a pert young ex-university student who teaches English and volunteers at the Project, some of Vietnam's best known entertainers will perform gratis at 9 Sunday morning, January 3 at 23 Thong Nhut right next to the British Embassy. Mrs. Minh-Ha personally visited all the performers. Dick Hughes explains.
"They hesitated at first, but when they heard it was for the benefit of the bui doi they agreed."
Tickets at 300, 400 or 500 piasters. Performers will include Jo Marcel (who also helped organize the show), The Apple Trio, female singers Khanh Ly, Thanh Lan, Le Thu, My The, Diem Thu, male singers Anh Khoa, Vu Thanh Anh, The Dreamers (pop band), the husband-wife team of Le Uyen Phuong, also Ba Con Meo (The Cat's Trio) and the Couvent des Oiseaux School which does Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese dances.
Some 200 invitations have been sent out. It is hoped that 1000 will attend and 400,000 piasters will be earned. The money will be used to renovate the streetboys' housing and to give them a Christmas party. Tickets can be purchased at 195 Pham Ngu Lao, the Lyly Dress Shop at 73A Le Than Ton, and the Ritz ar 145 Tran Hung Dao. Persons not able to attend may wish to make a donation.
(The following from SAIGON NOTES--byline Daniel Cameron-- in the Saigon Post, January 8, 1971, under 'THE STREETBOY BENEFIT')
It was something of a milestone in local philanthropy. It packed the house last Sunday morning at 23 Thong Nhut, next to the British Embassy. Organizer PHAM- VAN- TUYNH says it raised 200,000 piasters. Though not a huge sum, this will help renovate the bui doi (streetboy) housing, with maybe a little left over for a Tet celebration.
"We are very proud of the show," TUYNH told this column. "It is the first time that all these singers have come together to help like this. Now many people know about our work."
Some of the best singers in Vietnam took the stage: LE THU, diminutive body, powerful voice, emotionally a sister to Edith Piaf; THAI THANH, a lusty chanteuse who does everything from Vietnamese ballads to the Blue Danube Waltz--with training she could hold the operetta stage in Europe, it seems; ANH KHOA, a very mod young man who can croon with the likes of Johnny Mathis; PHAM DUY, grey-haired and knows how to dominate a stage like a crafty French artiste and can out-perform most anyone half his age; PHAM DUY's baby sister, JULIE QUANG, warbles nicely too. All this was only part of the talent on stage. With the best, the band played low and voices took over. Some of the female groups gave the effect of nightengales with nightengales.
There were also Russian and North Vietnamese folk dances and a Central Vietnamese folk music group. Later four costumed girls did an intriguing Chinese lantern dance. Each girl held a long rod with a lighted lantern suspended from it. To the rhythm and melody of a male-female song, they moved very lightly, with much grace and charm.
All in all, it benefited the audience too. You got your piasters' worth, and more.
Vietnam/Kampuchea 1969-June 30, 1975