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War veterans who turned disability into ability

Update: July, 25/2016 - 11:21

Viet Nam News 

July 27 is National War Martyrs and Invalids Day, providing an opportunity to thank millions of people who sacrificed their youth and even their lives for the nation. Việt Nam News reporters Thu Trang and Khánh Dương talked to four heros who overcome their disabilities to run businesses and make positive contributions to society in the post-war period.

Phùng Thị Thận

Phùng Thị Thận, 61, from the southern province of Đồng Nai

I retired from the Long Khánh Town Police in 1990 and in 1997 I founded a transport enterprise in Xuân Lộc District, Đồng Nai Province. My enterprise gradually developed and in 2007 it was upgraded into the Châu Lộc Khánh Co Ltd with the charter capital of VNĐ8 billion (US$355,500).

The company transports building material, for instance, for the K4 irrigation dam in Xuân Lộc District, the Hà Tiên Seaside in Kiên Giang southern province, the Đắk Tích K hydroelectric dam in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Nông, and public construction works in the new rural development programme of Xuân Lộc District and Long Khánh Town.

My company created jobs for 85 people in the province, with average salaries of VNĐ7 million (US$310) per month.

I usually do charity work by building houses for poor people, contributing to the Long Khánh Town’s fund for poverty reduction and fund for poor outstanding students.

I am motivated despite my old age and weak health because I always remember the late President Hồ Chí Minh’s saying, “Thương binh tàn nhưng không phế” (Wounded soldiers are disabled but they are not discards, they are still useful).

I was born and grew up in the central province of Bình Định during a period of revolution and resistance. I witnessed a lot of savage repression of the aggressors so I determined to devote myself to the country’s resistance war and its development nowadays.

My mind is always full of memories about the time I joined the resistance war. Following my father’s and older brother’s examples, when I was 13 years old I worked as a contact girl for the Long Khánh City Party Committee and then took part in fighting and killed a number of the aggressors’ spies. I was seriously injured in combat on January 28, 1975 and caught by the enemies. I was tortured barbarously until April 30, 1975, when the country was liberated.

I hope my comrades successfully complete their duties in the army and will be healthy and maintain the virtue of the soldiers based on the late President Hồ Chí Minh’s teachings. Young people will succeed in the revolutionary tasks of their elders and contribute their efforts in developing the country.

Cao Ngọc Xá
Cao Ngọc Xá, 61, ethnic Raglai minority, from the central province of Khánh Hòa

With help and guidance from the authorities in Sơn Lâm Commune, Khánh Sơn District, starting in 1982 I attended training courses about cultivation, breeding, rice and fruit planting so that the cultivation models would be suitable for the local climate and land.

At present, my family owns 0.8ha of coffee trees, 0.5ha of cashew, 4ha of bananas and 0.4ha of rice. The plants bring my family an income of VNĐ120-150 million ($5,200) per year after deducting expenses for manufacturing and labour.

Before 2010, my family was one of the poorest in the commune, but since then it has become well-to-do and a good example of helping local residents develop their household economy with the aim of sustainable poverty reduction.

I’m always ready to share experiences in agricultural manufacturing with local residents.

Despite the injuries left by the resistance war, I tried my best to be a responsible husband and father in my family. I want my childrens to get a good education and my family as well as my locality to develop. Sometimes I could not progress because of weak health and continuous diseases, but with care from local authorities, I strived to study and learn from experiences in manufacturing.

After joining the resistance war against America, I was honourly awarded the Resistance Medal, third class, and the Resolution for Victory Medal, third class. I also received a certificate of merit from the Khánh Hòa People’s Committee for excellent contribution in doing business and developing socio-economy in the period of 2009-13. Recognition by the State, Party and province encouraged me to try more and more in life.

I believe that not only me, but other comrades across the country, will always uphold the soldiers’ spirit, ceaselessly study to develop the economy. Despite returning from military service and being retired, we do not rest, we still contribute to making our country more wealthy and beautiful, and provide a good examples for young people to follow.

Nguyễn Văn Quởn

Nguyễn Văn Quởn, 47, from the southern province of Tiền Giang

I was born and grew up in a poor farming family but rich in revolutionary tradition in the resistance wars against France and America. My grandmother took care of soldiers during the wars, and thanks to her ideas and examples, my uncles joined the army and died in the wars, leaving my grandmother sad.

Living with her and witnessing her sadness, I determined to follow my uncles. In 1986 I joined the army and did international duty in battles in Cambodia. Within only three years, such a short time, I joined more than 20 battles from small-scale to big-scale, and I found that I reached adulthood in both awareness and experiences of fighting against the enemy.

In a battle at the end of 1989 on the frontier with Thailand, I sustained a serious spine injury and was paralysed in both legs.

The pain from the injuries, the sadness and my complex situation took away my will to live. Many times I intended to end my tragic life, but I could not do it.

In 1993 my parents brought me home to take care of me. Seeing my weak parents who needed someone to take care of them, I was in great torment - thinking how I could live to be worthy of my parents. I promised my mother that I would live, so I could not die.

After many days of thinking carefully, I decided to study electronics repair. Eight months later, after studying with a local worker, I could fix cassettes and radios. With the basic knowledge, I tried to study more in other vocational schools, applying the motto that “diligence is the mother of success.”  I graduated from the Thủ Đức Vocational Schools with excellent grades.

In 1999, 10 years after I was injured, I opened my own repair shop in my hometown. At first my shop had few customers, but word spread of my good reputation and now, not only local residents but others from neighbouring communes also come to my shop.

More than 10 youths were trained by me, and now they have stable jobs and incomes.

At present my electronic shop brings in VNĐ15-20 million ($660-880) per month. And each of my three employees earns VNĐ4.5 million per month ($200).

After emerging from the ocean of misery and bettering myself, I hope young people will never lose their belief in life and strive their best to become their family’s pride and support.

I hope to be healthy so that I can continue to help poor and disabled people.

Trịnh Xuân Lâm
Trịnh Xuân Lâm, chairman of the Board of Directors of Tiên Sơn Thanh Hóa Joint Stock Company and president of Veteran Businessmen Association of Thanh Hóa Province

My company was established in 1995 and provides jobs for more than 11,000 workers at seven sewing factories in central Thanh Hóa Province. Most of the workers are relatives of veterans in the area. By the end of this year, I will open two more factories to provide jobs for an additional 5,000 workers, and this number is expected to increase to ten factories and 20,000 workers in 2020. Despite lots of difficulties in managing a company of thousands of workers, I feel very proud to be a veteran and now be able to offer jobs to relatives of my colleagues.

There are more than 200,000 veterans in Thanh Hóa Province. I see that many of their relatives have to go far away to seek jobs, even face social evils. I decided to offer them jobs. I traveled to poor countries in the world and see that sewing is developing in Việt Nam, in general, and in Thanh Hóa Province, in particular.

My company has also created jobs for veterans who are strong enough to work, and given priority to relatives of veterans and to disabled veterans, training them to be key officials of the province in the future.

I hope these people will maintain the spirit of soldiering and camaraderie. The more challenges we face, the more we must adhere to the soldiers’ slogan, “Overcome any difficulty and win over any enemy”. — VNS

 

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