Walking through the backpacker district in Saigon means shoeing away street vendors hawking everything from hammocks to hashish, not to mention the bevy of poor Vietnamese vying for your heart strings. But there’s one group of street sellers you can feel good about supporting.
Sozo street sellers operate between Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien and are readily identified by their baskets of American-style cookies: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, and white chocolate. Packages of 3 cookies cost 20,000 VND (just over a dollar), the proceeds from which benefit Sozo Centre, a bakery and nonprofit on Bui Vien that provides poor families and disabled Vietnamese with job training, specifically in baking and running a business. Sozo also runs volunteer programs and funds schooling costs for some of the families with whom they work.
So before you brush off the seller who approaches your lunch table, look for the Sozo label. Not only do the cookies support a good cause, they’re tasty and more practical than a hammock.