by Luu Van Dat
People who pocket public money are a dime a dozen. But rarely do we see someone spend their own money for the good of the community.
Le Tat Dung of the northern province of Quang Ninh is one such amazing man who has in fact spent his entire life savings to build a bridge over a local river.
The resident of Phu Loc Village in Dai Loc District had VND300 million (US$14,500) he had meant to use to repair his decrepit house.
The 50-odd-year-old vehicle mechanic then decided a bridge over the Vu Gia River was of greater importance after seeing people fall into the water when travelling by small boats, and students huddle in them while going to school.
He himself drew the design for a pontoon bridge, found the wood, cable and other materials required in Da Nang City, and obtained permission from authorities.
Starting last October he completed the bridge in 70 days with enthusiastic help from the other villagers.
Now it lies proudly over the water, 80 metres long and two metres wide. It is supported by 150 pontoons and can take a load of 750kg.
In the middle is a motor to help it swing to allow boats to pass.
Nguyen May, the village head, said thanks to Dung, people were not afraid of missing the ferry after a long day in the field or market, and children were no longer late for school.
"We feel uneasy (about using his money) , but poor people only have deep gratitude for him."
No fingers? Never mind
Tran Tri Tri Thuc, a sixth-grade student in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Soc Trang, had been a source of worry to his parents since his birth, but no longer.
The twelve-year-old is now their pride after scoring 9.5 this year, the highest in his class at the Junior High School in Ke Sach District.
Not bad for a boy who was born without fingers.
He not only excels in class but is also an enthusiastic participant in extra-curricular activities.
Ly Tuan, vice headmaster of his school, thinks Thuc is a role model for other students, fingers or no fingers.
Thuc's father, Tran Ngoc Tri, says he realised his son was unusual by the time he was three. By then Thuc had learnt to use his fingerless hands to write and even paint.
He has always been interested in computing, mathematics, and English. This year he won third prize in an online English contest organised at the district level.
He has competed in a similar contest at the provincial level and is awaiting the results, and is preparing for a maths contest.
Thuc says his parents' great love and hard work have been an inspiration for him.
"I dream of being a mathematics teacher and … bringing joy to my parents and teachers." — VNS