Pricking society's conscience

By Le Ai, Thanh Nien News

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An old man eats noodles he picks up from a garbage cart in Hanoi. Photographer: Nguyen Son Tung An old man eats noodles he picks up from a garbage cart in Hanoi. Photographer: Nguyen Son Tung

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A Hanoi photographer last week posted on a forum a picture he took six years ago, and it has proved to be anything but old, quickly eliciting anguished comments about the rich-poor gap and the failure of the social welfare system.
It shows an old man eating hungrily from a garbage cart.
Nguyen Son Tung, 26, said he took the photo while sitting at a coffee shop in Thanh Xuan District one afternoon in 2010.
“He was eating noodles from the cart. I offered him some money but he didn't take it.”
He learned that the old man had been living like that for a long time and did not accept help from anyone, he said.
He had forgotten about the photo until recently when he was looking through his files, he said.
The photo, posted on April 15, attracted innumerable comments on social media about how one should value what they have since a lot of people do not even have food.
“If there’s any photo that changes my point of view about life, it’s this one,” one commented.
Some said they have seen the old man wandering on Hanoi streets, eating from garbage bins.
Many said it is sadly the situation in most countries.
One person said on Facebook the photo has made her think about opening soup kitchen in the near future.
Another said the man has mental problems and no family, and has not received proper help for many years.
His medical condition is not known.

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