|Work of art: Wrapping up banh chung (square glutinous rice cake), one of Vi's pieces. — Photos Tiin.vn
Tran Thuy Thuy Vi started her professional life late, after spending much of her childhood at a rehabilitation centre working on her paralysis. But now she owns her own painting shop and helps other women with disabilities learn to paint. Ha Nguyen reports.
Being paralysed at the age of three after a severe fever, Tran Thuy Vi's parents sent her to a rehabilitation centre in HCM City's District 3.
She returned home at the age of 12 and continued to go to class and finish high school at the age of 20. Feeling an inferiority complex, she didn't dare to think of enrolling in university but registered to work at an industrial zone near her home.
"After working at the zone, I was trying to learn graphic design in the evening because it is my dream since I was a little girl," said Vi.
But Vi had to give up her job at the industrial zone because the company she worked for suddenly shut down.
After looking for another job for a long time, finally she was chosen to work for a graphics company.
"I wish to learn the graphic technique to earn more experience but the low monthly salary and distance from my home to the company is too far for a disabled person like me to go to work by bus so I had to give up the job later," Vi said.
To earn a higher income, in 2008, Vi decided to enroll in university at the age of 30. At the Hong Bang University's Industrial Fine Arts department she had a chance to practise quilling.
"My love and my dream of hand making quilled art works was clearly formed in my mind because it attracts me so much," said Vi.
Thanks to her hard studying at the university, Vi's skill of quilling papers received appreciation from her teachers and classmates.
|Master of the house: Tran Thuy Thuy Vi sits at her office.
After graduating from university in 2013, Vi was confident to open her own shop at her parents' home at Vinh Hoi residential quarters in HCM City's District 4 and recruited 11 other young disabled women to teach them techniques of paper filigree.
"I have to do everything such as teaching the women who are from rural and remote areas and facing difficulties to learn the job and find materials, selling and delivering items to buyers," Vi said.
She said however that making filigree paintings was not so difficult but it required the maker to be very careful of details.
Fortunately, several of her staff have skilled hands so they could help her teach others.
Vi herself has undertaken designing models.
"I access the Internet to design my painting models but I have created how to make the quilling."
Despite so, they still faced difficulty in selling their items.
"We have to bring our items to sell at tourist sites. Luckily, our items have sold well to both local and foreign buyers."
Vi said a Japanese couple were so interested in her items that they introduced them to their friends, who later arrived at her shop to buy her items.
Since then, Vi and her staff made souvenirs, cards and flowers from quilling. They have received orders to make portraits from the materials.
Asked how to make the portrait, Vi said, "You just give me a photo of you, you will receive a lively quilling painting."
Le Thi Anh Tuyet, 24 from the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, who has worked for Vi for more than two years, said, "Thanks to Vi, I now have a stable job to earn a living although my monthly salary is still not high (only VND2.5 million )."
Vo Thi Luyen, 26, from the Delta province of Tien Giang said, "I was paralysed at the age of 2. Since growing up, I still stay at home to help my mother's cooking. I felt my future life was dark but since working with Vi, I have money for myself. I don't have to depend on my parents as before."
At Vi's workshop, Luyen feels life significant because the staff loves each other as they are under the same roof.
Vi has just received an order which is worth some VND120 million from a souvenir company in HCM City.
"We have to work very hard to deliver the goods on time to sell before New Year 2016 and Tet holiday comes," Vi said. — VNS