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Money lender gets his interest in gratitude

Update: November, 21/2012 - 10:12

 

Grabbing attention: Huynh Huu Du stands by a board that informs people "Red Cross Society in Tan Hoa Village: Here we have money to lend in cases of disease and emergency". VNS Photo Quoc Dung
Partnership: Du and his wife (left) are always ready to help the poor.
 
 
Growing up in a poor family can be tough when the crop fails or there's a health crisis. One man who grew up in penury has made it his mission to help people who fall on hard times by lending them money from his own savings. Quoc Dung reports.

Huynh Huu Du is just a typical labourer, like many others in the southern province of Vinh Long. Yet after 20 years working in various jobs, he has given most of his savings to those living in poverty. In addition, people who cannot afford to repay their loans are cleared of debt. Among local people, Du is considered not just a friend, but a lifesaver.

The pathway to Du's house in Tan Hoa Village (Tan Hanh Commune, Vinh Long City) is filled with obstacles. But anyone who has received Du's help is more than willing to show the way. In many people's minds, this man takes on the role of a great and powerful person. It was beyond our wildest imaginations that we would ever get the chance to meet him face to face.

In front of us stands a rural man, wearing simple, shabby clothes. But we quickly see his hospitality and kindness. The 49-year-old greets us with a warm smile: "I was born in poverty, so I sympathise with the pain of other unfortunate people. When you are poor, bad fortune seems to follow you. Poverty comes with disease and bad luck. Besides, I do not want to waste my money. I want it to be used for a good purpose - helping others," he says.

For more than 20 years, Du and his wife have donated their money to hundreds of local people whose lives were endangered by debts and other hardships.

"They come to me because they have nowhere else to turn to. I do not need to consider what I gain and what I lose when I hold out my hand to someone. I just offer help to whoever needs it. This way, people won't hesitate to come see me. I even put up a blackboard to inform people that they can come borrow money whenever they need treatment or are in another emergency," he adds.

The kind-hearted man also has a unique way to lend money: no borrower records, no interest, no mortgage, and even no identification papers needed. Since only the poorest and most unfortunate people seek his help, he says, there is no reason for him to turn them down.

"Over the past 30 years, my wife and I had nothing but a small fishing junk. Every day I rowed around selling fish sauce to local people living on the canal. Each trip lasts from five days to a week. But fish sauce sales brought me a very low income, so I decided to quit and sell gas for wholesale and retail. When the sales were forbidden, I returned home to open a small gas stall," he recalls.

He didn't wait to become well-off to help people. While selling gas, he saved the lives of more than a few local people.

Nguyen Thi Phung, 60, is one of those whose lives Du saved. Phung owned a small retail store and suffered from constant illness. Du gave her VND4 million (US$192) to improve her condition.

Although Du's wife stayed by his side, the local authority did not want to carry the borrowing contract to Phung, worrying that she would not be able to repay the debt. "Although they did not wish to do it, I still let her use my money. The day I transferred the money to her, she could not help but be moved to tears," Du recalls.

Phung also remembers the day she was saved by her benefactor: "I will never forget the great gift he bestowed upon me. Thanks to the money, my family got through our difficult time. More than that, he lent me the money without asking for me to return it. But I did want to pay him back, although it took two and a half years of saving."

While checking his debt notes, Du explains to us, "Some cases have to be written here, as they are 'bad debt.' This means the borrowers could be strangers or from other areas. With these cases, I just need to know that they are in some way related to my friends, or my neighbours, before I can give them money. Over the past 20 years, I've loaned up to a billion dong," he smiles.

In the Labour Emulation Congress held in Vinh Long in 2012, Du was chosen as one of the best individuals for his dedication to the people here. He was also awarded the Excellency Award by the Prime Minister for his charitable work.

"I want to do this work because it's my purpose in life. That is all," he says. — VNS

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