HopeBox - Good Food. Great Cause.
Written by Ciara Briscoe
HopeBox was established in March 2018 by CEO Huong Dang, with the aim to be a platform for women in violent situations to reach out for help, report and leave a violent situation. HopeBox is going to not only provide a pathway for women to escape but help them grow and end the cycle of abuse. Every time you order from HopeBox, you help towards this initiative. Managing Director, Ellie Sander, spoke with us to outline the wonderful work that HopeBox does, what direction they would like to go, and how you can help them get there.
What is HopeBox, if it could fit in a nutshell?
We’re a social enterprise based in Hanoi which hires women who are survivors of gender-based violence (human trafficking & domestic violence) in their transition phase (i.e shelter) and need support entering the workforce. It’s trauma-sensitive work-based therapy.
Was there any one moment that pushed you towards opening HopeBox, or rather a collection of experiences?
Definitely a collection of first-hand experiences and stories. However, in Vietnam, the statistics prove it’s happening all the time and everywhere. It’s the social stigma and acceptance of women who are being abused and it’s just to be accepted. One of our team members was in a terribly violent relationship for eight years and it was impossible to leave. She was continuously encouraged to return and received a lot of pressure to maintain ‘happy family life’ from everyone. HopeBox largely supports women from rural areas because there are even more limited options for those who do leave.
Are there any suppliers, individuals, or organisations which you feel have gone above and beyond to help you and your staff during the establishment and continuation of HopeBox? Shout-out time!
There’s a range of organisations which inspired HopeBox and have helped us along the way. Particularly in Tay Ho, we can’t go past Star Kickboxing & Fitness who offered free self-defence classes for our team. The best part was this was an organisation who reached out to us. That means a lot and is a true testament to Gemma & Phu’s values.
We also cannot ignore St Paul American School Hanoi who quite literally saved HopeBox during COVID-19 during 2020. Without their support, we wouldn’t be where we are today. The same goes for the NZ Embassy who provided partial funding for our Economic Empower Project and Allens Law Firm who assists us on a pro bono basis.
Also, KOTO (KOTO Villa) is a social enterprise whose business model inspired Huong Dang to found HopeBox. Huong was once a trainee herself and so the ethos of ‘Know One, Teach One’ is so evident in her starting HopeBox.
What is a moment (if you can choose just one!) that really made you believe the vision for HopeBox was alive and well?
If we’re being honest, it’s one of our team members who was abused for a lifetime and has a lot of PTSD. She struggles with some skills but we’re here to support her. It’s horrifying in that sense to imagine where she would be without the support of HopeBox. That’s why we’re here.
Is there any particular thing you’ve wanted to achieve with this project that you’re still striving for?
We’re striving for more awareness and female police! Awareness of domestic violence in Vietnam and for it not to be accepted as just a different cultural attitude. We want to highlight and guide women to the avenues of support and increase it. The awareness and support of the Tay Ho community is wonderful though and we’re always so honoured when a local group chooses to donate to our cause. It is heartwarming and the team at HopeBox feel so empowered.
Anything extra you would like to let everyone know about your fantastic cause?
Every time you purchase from HopeBox, you’re creating instant social impact. You’re also helping our team develop their skill set whether it be through baking, customer service or a myriad of other tasks. A lot of love has gone into our products and when you purchase one of our products or stock it in your bar or shop, you’re helping not only a survivor of gender-based violence but you’re helping their children remain in school and helping break the cycle of violence & poverty.
How can people get involved with what you do? How can we support you?
Share our posts! The best part about HopeBox is we can hide behind a ‘screen’ of selling items. We regularly share GBV updates (domestic violence hotlines etc) which may be useful to a Vietnamese friend of yours. We’ve found that women don’t know who to reach out to for ‘official’ support and are worried about being caught. Stumbling across HopeBox means they just might come across more of a support network and we can help guide them to reaching out and, most importantly, leaving a violent situation safely.
Email: [email protected]