Tuesday, September 27 2016

VietNamNews

Farmer hands over land for development

Update: July, 16/2016 - 09:00
School days: Students play happily on the playground of Phong Phú B Primary School which was formerly Ua’s land. Photo dantri.com.vn
Viet Nam News

A kind farmer called Thạch Ua in Trà Vinh Province saw that his community needed a school.

So, he gave up some of his land so that a school could be built.

He also once saw that a road was needed and then gave up some land for the road.

Thạch Ua has been given a special award for the good things he has done.

by Minh Giang

Despite leading a difficult life, 61-year-old Thạch Ua in Phong Phú Commune in the southern province of Trà Vinh has twice donated land for building a primary school and kindergarten in his hometown, helping hundreds of ethnic students in the area to attend schools.

Phong Phú Commune is home to many Khmer ethnic people who account for over 60 per cent of its population. As a poor community whose main sources of living derive from farming, many households have not been able to afford education for their children. Due to a lack of schools, many Khmer children are forced to stay home to work with their parents.

Others must travel by boat or wade a 4km muddy path to reach the main road to walk to their schools.

After witnessing his daughter and many nearby children’s difficulties in going to school daily, Ua spoke with local authorities and allowed them to use the bare land in front of his house to build a temporary primary school.

“I used to be a soldier fighting on a Cambodian battlefield. After being demobilised, I returned to my home village to work as a farmer,” he said. “There were no schools in my hamlet. Students had to walk long distances to reach their schools. So I thought of lending my land to local authorities to build temporary classes. At that time, I just wanted to have a school nearby so my daughter and neighbouring children did not have to cross the muddy path or sit on rocking boats to go to schools anymore,” he said.

A makeshift classroom made of bamboo and leaves was first set up on his land in 1990. When that classroom later deteriorated seriously, he decided to donate 1,000 square metres on which two classrooms with brick walls and metal roofs were built to establish Phong Phú B Primary School in 1995.

Ua’s intentions received enthusiastic support from both his family and neighbours.

“When he spoke with me about lending our land to authorities, I accepted immediately because I understood how difficult the children’s journey to school was,” says Thạch Thị Ngone, Ua’s wife.

“My family are farmers and the land we donated might be of high value. But I did not calculate anything but hope that local children would be educated, instead of dropping out of school.”

From the small Phong Phú B Primary School, generations of students have grown up to have a brighter future, becoming engineers, doctors and teachers.

“Everyone needs money but money can never be as valuable as knowledge. Only education helps people to broaden their minds, live properly and contribute to society,” Ua says.

There was a primary school, but no kindergarten in the area. So Ua also suggested local authorities open a kindergarten in his house in 2012.

Ua’s house had enough space for only 23 small children. But there was high demand for children to attend kindergarten in the hamlet and vicinity.

In 2012, he decided to donate another 500sq.m of his land for the People’s Committee of Cầu Kè District to construct a new kindergarten. The school welcomed nearly 100 children in Phong Phú Commune after it was built.

“Ua has a very good will and he donated land for the students in the commune twice. Recently, when local authorities encountered difficulties in upgrading the traffic system, he donated more land to finish a 900m road. He has received many certificates of merit for his good deeds,” says Huỳnh Thị Định, vice chairwoman of Phong Phú Commune’s People’s Committee.

“He is respected within the Khmer community. When there are disputes or campaigns in the region, the authorities ask for Ua’s help”, she adds.

It was a midsummer afternoon. Students were playing happily in front of Ua’s house. Though it was summer vacation, the ethnic students were being taught the Khmer language to preserve their writings and culture.

As soon as Ua stepped out on the playground, the children immediately surrounded him and held his hand joyfully.

“I’m very happy to see the children now have a place to play and learn,” he says. VNS


 

GLOSSARY

Despite leading a difficult life, 61-year-old Thạch Ua in Phong Phú Commune in the southern province of Trà Vinh has twice donated land for building a primary school and kindergarten in his hometown, helping hundreds of ethnic students in the area to attend schools.

Donated means gave.

A primary school is a school where younger children go for around the first half of their school years.

A kindergarten is a place where young children go to play and learn things before they attend proper school.

Ethnic people are those who are different to most people in a country because they belong to a different race, speak a different language or follow a different religion.

Phong Phú Commune is home to many Khmer ethnic people who account for over 60 per cent of its population.

By accounting for 60 percent of  Phong Phú Commune’s population, the Khmer ethnic people make up 60 percent of all the people who live in the commune.

As a poor community whose main sources of living derive from farming, many households have not been able to afford education for their children.

Your source of living is what you make your money from. If you are a rice farmer, it is rice; if you are a gold miner it is gold.

Derive means “originally comes from”

Others must travel by boat or wade a 4km muddy path to reach the main road to walk to their schools.

To wade means to walk in a liquid, usually water. However, in this case it is mud. When you wade it is more than just your feet that are in the water. It could be up to your hips, even up to your neck.

After witnessing his daughter and many nearby children’s difficulties in going to school daily, Ua spoke with local authorities and allowed them to use the bare land in front of his house to build a temporary primary school.

Bare land is land with no plants, or very few plants, growing on it.

A temporary school is one that exists only for a while and is not there all the time. The opposite of temporary is permanent.

“After being demobilised, I returned to my home village to work as a farmer,” he said.

When a war is over and soldiers are no longer needed for fighting, they are demobilised.

“There were no schools in my hamlet.”

A hamlet is a collection of houses that is too small to be called a village.

“So I thought of lending my land to local authorities to build temporary classes.

To lend means to allow someone to use something of yours. (The person who is being lent something is borrowing it.)

Local authorities are people in power in a small place like a village or a commune rather than the government in the capital city.

A makeshift classroom made of bamboo and leaves was first set up on his land in 1990.

A makeshift classroom is one that is built to be used only for a while.

When that classroom later deteriorated seriously, he decided to donate 1,000 square metres on which two classrooms with brick walls and metal roofs were built to establish Phong Phú B Primary School in 1995.

Deteriorated means having become worse and worse.

Ua’s intentions received enthusiastic support from both his family and neighbours.

Someone’s intentions are what they want and plan to do.

If you receive enthusiastic support for a project, people are very keen to help you, either by saying nice things that make you want to do your project or actually giving you things.

“But I did not calculate anything but hope that local children would be educated, instead of dropping out of school.”

To calculate means to work something out.

From the small Phong Phú B Primary School, generations of students have grown up to have a brighter future, becoming engineers, doctors and teachers.

You and your brothers and sisters are one generation; your parents, uncles and aunts are another and your grandparents and great uncles and great aunts are yet another generation.

“Only education helps people to broaden their minds, live properly and contribute to society,” Ua says.

To broaden your mind means to be able to think about more in a way that makes you understand others.

To contribute to society means to be useful to your community.

In 2012, he decided to donate another 500sq.m of his land for the People’s Committee of Cầu Kè District to construct a new kindergarten.

To construct a kindergarten means to build one.

Recently, when local authorities encountered difficulties in upgrading the traffic system, he donated more land to finish a 900m road.

Upgrading the traffic system means improving and updating it.

He has received many certificates of merit for his good deeds,” says Huỳnh Thị Định, vice chairwoman of Phong Phú Commune’s People’s Committee.

A certificate of merit is a type of award.

Whenever someone does something, they do a deed. In other words, a deed is something someone does.

“He is respected within the Khmer community.”

If he is respected within the Khmer community, he is admired for what he has done.

“When there are disputes or campaigns in the region, the authorities ask for Ua’s help”, she adds.

A dispute is an argument.

A campaign is a special, organised effort to get something done.

Though it was summer vacation, the ethnic students were being taught the Khmer language to preserve their writings and culture.

A vacation means a holiday.

To preserve something means to keep it.

As soon as Ua stepped out on the playground, the children immediately surrounded him and held his hand joyfully.

When the children surrounded him, they stood around him on all sides.

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

1. A country in which Thạch Ua once fought when he was a soldier.

2. A type of wood used to build a classroom.

3. A job some people who were once pupils at Phong Phú B Primary School have gone on to do in their adult lives.

4. An ethnic community.

5. A settlement that is smaller than a village.

 

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© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2016
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

1. Cambodia; 2. Bamboo; 3. Teacher; 4. Khmer; 5. Hamlet.  

 

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