|Ta Dinh Han and Vu Thi Thanh with their children. They are owners of three massage stores in Ha Noi, with an average income of VND1 billion (nearly US$45 thousand) per year and also talented athletes of Viet Nam. VNS Photo Kim Thuy
by Kim Thuy
HA NOI (VNS) — Ta Dinh Han, 38, a blind man, and his disabled wife, Vu Thi Thanh, have finally realised their dream of buying a spacious house after 10 years of constantly working for between 15 hours and 17 hours per day.
For them, the house is not only a reward for their relentless efforts, but more importantly, proof of their strength and ability to thrive in life like normal people.
"Visually-impaired or disabled people are as capable as anyone else. Being different from others does not make us inferior," Han said.
At present, they own three massage stores in Ha Noi, with an average income of VND1 billion (nearly US$45,000) per year.
Han became blind when he was ten because his father was a victim of Agent Orange.
His colorful world suddenly turned into an empty void. This terrible twist of fate forced him to drop out of school in fifth grade.
"My father had taken me to countless doctors in various regions for ten years, but it was in vain. I never got a chance to see this world as I used to again."
Han had to learn to adapt to a new life. The most difficult task for Han was to accept reality. He thought of committing suicide several times as he did not want to be a burden on his impoverished parents.
Some years after Han turned blind, his brother suffered from mental impairment.
This was a wake-up call to Han. He was the only hope of his parents and brother. He had the responsibility to take care of them because one day his parents would become weak and could not make money.
He realised that working, not death, was the key to solve his problems. However, it was really difficult for Han to find a job as he had no schooling, no skills and his eyes didn't function.
"I took any job I could no matter how hard it was or how little I was paid, as long as I could earn money legally using my own hands," Han said. In 1996, he got a job as a model for drawing and painting classes at Ha Noi University of Industrial Fine Arts. He had to stay in a fixed posture for about an hour and he was paid VND5,000 per hour (about 1 cent at that time).
He kept doing the job for nine years despite a low salary because it not only trained him to be patient but it also gave him a chance to enjoy the atmosphere of school life. He never took a day off and he listened carefully to the lecturers as if he were a student.
It was during this time that he started to learn about the structure of human body, which served as a stepping stone for his later job.
In 2002, he took free massage therapy courses for the disabled in the evening at Viet Nam University of Traditional Medicine.
He had to walk a distance of seven kilometres from his house to the university.
The difficulty could not wash away his enthusiasm as he considered this a precious opportunity that would bring a sea of change to his life. And he was right. Four years later, he opened his first massage shop.
A helping hand
With three massage stores, he has created jobs for about 40 sightless people with stable income of between VND5 million ($225) and VND7 million ($315) monthly.
"I understand how hard it is to be blind, but I also know how helpful a blind person can become once he overcomes his dark time," Han said.
Nguyen Dinh Thang, 44, a congenitally blind person from Thai Binh Province, has worked as a massager in Han's store for five years and now he is the breadwinner of his family.
"Han taught me massage therapy and gave me a chance to live a new life," Thang said.
Five years ago, Thang completely depended on his wife, a farmer, for his living.
He used to keep his head down when walking as he felt ashamed of his worthless and helpless life.
Thanks to Han's support, now Thang is a skillful and confident massager.
"When I visit my hometown, I give my relatives and neighbours free massages. Doing something good for other people gives me a sense of fulfillment," Thang said.
Ha Thi Thuyen, a 52 year-old blind and disabled person, no longer uses her disability to beg for others' sympathy in the streets.
She was a beggar four years ago and now she is a manager of one of Han's massage stores. "I can stand on my own feet even though I do not have legs," Thuyen said.
Han inspired her to learn and work hard. Now she is really good at using computers and she can type with ten fingers. Han always encourages his staff to constantly cultivate their skills and knowledge.
"Blind people like us can not use our eyes, so we must use our visions," Han said.
From a helpless person who was dependent on his parents' pension, now Han can help other disabled people. He is a member of the executive committee of Hoan Kiem District's Blind Association, and is responsible for helping young blind integrate into society.
Nguyen Chau Son, chairman of the association, said that Han set a good example for other members to follow.
"What makes Han different is that he does not consider his visual impairment as a hindrance to his success but a driving force to push him ahead," Son said.
Han has faced bankruptcy two times but he always kept optimistic spirits and never gave up.
"He is a blind adventurer in a business world full of fierce competition," Son said.
Passion for sports
Han is also a runner while his disabled wife is a badminton player. They have competed in various domestic and international competitions for the disabled for over 12 years.
Han wins medals every time he takes part in ASEAN Para Games.
Thanh gained a bronze medal in the 2015 Para Badminton Championships in London, the highest achievement of hers so far.
With ambitions set high, they have been practicing at least six hours per day to prepare for the 8th Para Games in Singapore at the end of this year.
Having achieved many kinds of medals in their lives, Han and Thanh consider the most precious and meaningful ones they get are their three healthy children.
Han hopes his children will grow up brave and benevolent.
Ta Duy Phong, their 8-year-old son, is a thoughtful and obedient child.
He can take care of himself and his two younger sisters when Han and Thanh are away for sport competitions.
"I want to become a director in the future so that I can create jobs for the disabled like my parents and help them have good lives," Phong said. — VNS