On July 19, 2018, Mr. Tran Van Tinh (Tony Tinh) cooperated with the People’s Committee of Ninh Quoi Commune, Hong Dan District, Bac Lieu Province to conduct a charity survey of each poor household and find out the difficulties and needs of each child directly and give them the opportunity to continue going to school.
Specifically, within just one day, the group conducted charity surveys of 50 families with poor students about their academic ability, family situation, dreams, aspirations, and talents. According to the program plan, the results obtained from the survey will be analyzed by Tony Tinh, which will award scholarships to each student on September 5, in time for them to start the new school year. The program aims to spread good values among the community and contribute to society.
There are 11 volunteers accompanied with Tony Tinh in this journey. With guidance and help from Ninh Quoi commune authorities and teachers from local primary and secondary schools, the group was divided into many small groups. The groups went from house to house to carefully record each child’s situation. In addition to the children on the commune’s poor and near-poor list, the delegation also searched for a number of other children in difficult situations who were not on the list but still needed help.
When the survey team arrived at the gathering point in Hong Dan District, the houses and environment were as normal and bustling as in the city. However, after entering the territory of Ninh Quoi commune and going to each household, The whole group could not help but be surprised and saddened by the contrast with the living area that was only about 30 minutes away by car: shacks, thatched houses with leaky roofs, houses in the middle of fields, houses on muddy ground, houses that resembled a pigsty, and houses that required the use of a canoe to get inside. View of one of the 50 houses on the survey list.
Le Thi Diem My
Entering Diem My’s small house, the first impression of the survey team was that the house was quite large, like houses typically are in the countryside. Although the house as very neat and tidy, it was mostly empty and had only the most necessary items. My is a good student in the eighth grade living with her grandparents. Her father passed away from cancer, leaving behind treatment fee debts that now rest on My’s mother’s shoulders. Because My’s mother works as a housekeeper, far from home, My only gets to see her about one or two times a year. My’s brother works as a woodworker. Her grandmother sells water lilies.
The family’s meager monthly income is just enough to cover its basic needs. When we interviewed the family, we were extremely touched when My burst into tears. She said, “I want to stop studying to support my family, and I really want to support and be with my mother. I was often teased and shunned by my friends.” Although her academic inclination is toward the social sector, because of her father’s death, My cherished a dream about becoming a doctor and helping others. My felt sorry for herself.
My’s dreams may not come true because her annual tuition fee is nearly 4 million dong. This may be a small amount of money for students in the city, but for Diem My’s family, it is a great deal.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Sinh
When some of the charity survey teams had finished their morning work and returned to the gathering place to report on the situation, the command team and the media received a message from a member of the press team about a school. It was an emergency situation. The command and communication team quickly arrived at the school. It was in a low-lying area flooded with dirty water.
In a small shack lived the extremely unhappy family of Mrs. Nguyen Thi Sinh, 82 years old, and her six small grandchildren, half of whom were orphans. Four children were of school age. They all relied on an orphan allowance of just over 1.6 million VND a month. All six children depended entirely on their aged grandmother. The children’s ages ranged from 2 to 10. They were barefoot and wore dirty clothes, and some had scabies. The old woman could not find work because of her age. She caught snails and made 5000 VND a day, often buying fish from neighbors to feed her grandchildren. Her children supposedly died in an accident, but it is believed they were so miserable that they ran away, leaving their descendants to be raised by the grandmother. One member of the survey team asked, “Your life is so miserable. If anyone offers to adopt your children, will you agree?” She replied, “Not as long as I’m alive.” We couldn’t help but feel sad. We asked, “We will support you. How do you feel?” She replied firmly, “I am very grateful, but I do not dare to expect any help. I have to take care of myself first, wherever I go. It’s okay to die, but what do you do now, uncle? Support money is also other people’s blood and blood, don’t expect it.” The corner of the kitchen where she was boiling potatoes was blanketed in thick smoke. There was not enough air to breathe. Huyen Trinh, one of the volunteers in charge of the interview, shed tears.
On the way back, different from the excitement and energy at the start, the atmosphere was quiet and heavy. We are overwhelmed by the horror and sadness of what we had witnessed in the past twenty-four hours and the anxiety of realizing that our charity program played only a small part in helping people. The local teachers shared, “Even for children with better circumstances, the chance of entering university and following a good career here is rare.” In this locality, young people who have the ability to work go to industrial zones to work as masons, workers, and hired laborers, leaving most of the old people and children to support each other. Only families who have a garden and land can be self-sufficient. Children are neglected, do not get direction from their parents, and do not know what to do in life. Eventually, when they reach high school age, they will be lured to the city to work. Dedicated teachers in the commune encourage families to not let their children drop out of school. Every Tet holiday, some teachers go to the front of the commune gate to guard against families forcing their children to drop out of school and go to the city to work. If asked about how miserable life here is, most people will answer, “There is nowhere to go. We eat our meals and live through the day.”
Looking at the field in the distance, reminded of writer Nguyen Ngoc Tu’s The Endless Field, a friend in the survey group exclaimed, “The ducks swimming back and forth out there are even happier than people.” The charity survey program has ended, and the report has been sent to Tony Tinh. We are trying with all our heart to contribute to giving children a chance to continue in school. There are many other unfortunate souls that need to be taken care of. We hope that what we are doing by sharing and speaking out will receive attention from the community, and people will join hands in building a better future for our homeland.
Be Better Foundation