Phan Lac Viet Hoa, seven, along with his younger brother and father were keenly sticking coloured cellophane sheets on their star lanterns made out of bamboo.
They were sitting in a corner of the yard at the Youth Social Work Centre in HCM City’s District 1.
Covering and decorating the lanterns is the next step after they finish framing it. Their father shows them how to stick the cellophane and cut the unnecessary parts.
The boys, who are from District 2, carefully concentrated on the sticking and cutting.
“I liked doing it very much,” Hoa said.
“Making the lantern was enjoyable. Last year I came here to make lanterns to gift peers in remote areas. I want them also to have lanterns like I do.”
Like Hoa and his younger brother, many other kids were also excited to frame, stick cellophane and decorate lanterns in the yard. They put stickers of princesses from fairy tales and other characters on the lanterns.
Their parents had brought them to the centre to give them the experience of making lanterns and learning about traditional bamboo lanterns for the Mid-Autumn Festival.
The festival, which this year falls on September 13, is a time for children to enjoy tasty treats and gifts from adults. Lanterns are a festival speciality.
In the past the lanterns were mostly made from bamboo and had lighted candles inside. But now they have mostly been replaced with battery-operated plastic ones with music.
Hoa’s father said: “My sons have only known battery-operated plastic ones with music. Making lanterns like this is a chance for my sons to learn what traditional lanterns are and how to make them.”
The centre’s staff plans to take the lanterns and gift them to children in remote areas in the Mekong Delta province of Bến Tre on September 7.
“This will teach my sons how to share,” Hoa’s father said.
Nguyen Thi Thuy Lien, 37, of District 2 was also making lanterns with her son and said the programme is a useful learning process for children.
Besides families and children the programme also attracted many university students.
Nguyen Van Dang of Long An Province, a student of the HCM City University of Technology, said: “This is the first time I experienced making ever. I liked it. It was not easy to make a beautiful lantern like other people here did.”
Kieu Van Linh of the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities said: “The HCM City Youth Social Work Centre’s programme on making lanterns reminded me of my childhood. I wanted to lend a hand to make lanterns for children in rural areas where they do not have traditional or battery-operated lanterns for the festival.”
“I prefer traditional lanterns to plastic lanterns because they are colourful.”
Vo Quoc Binh, head of the social workers team at the centre, said the programme aimed to make 500 lanterns, which would help many children celebrate the festival with gaiety.
“I also hope making traditional lanterns could be preserved and restored through such programmes.
“It is very important that traditional lanterns reduce the volume of drained batteries and plastic waste in the environment.” VNS