by Phuong Mai
Birthday bash for Uncle Ho
"I'm not afraid that I'm poor but I'm afraid of not being able to go to school," said Tran Ngoc Phuong Linh, a ninth-grade student at District 1's Minh Duc School.
Linh was one of 500 students participating in a festival called "Uncle Ho's Good Nephews and Nieces" that celebrate the 123rd birthday of President Ho Chi Minh.
Linh was born into a poor family. Her parents divorced when she was very young and her mother, who suffers from cancer, works as a street vendor.
"After school, I do my best to help my mom earn money. I dream that one day I will also attend university. So I study hard every day," she said.
Linh gets good marks in school.
But she has set her sights even higher.
"I want to study well and become a doctor, repaying my mom, teachers and friends for their kindness."
Nguyen Duong Kim Hao, a sixth-grade student at Tan Binh District's Nguyen Gia Thieu School, is an inventor. She has won several prizes at contests for young scientists at home and abroad, including the 2013 International Technology Innovation Fair in Malaysia and Innovation Contest for Young People in South Korea.
Hao said she was very happy and honoured to be given "Uncle Ho's Good Nieces" title because "Uncle Ho is my idol".
HCM City has hundreds of other children who have shown a strong will to overcome difficulties in their lives as they pursue their dreams. Their achievements are the perfect birthday present for President Ho.
Upwardly mobile street sellers
More and more street vendors in HCM City are finding hi-tech devices improving the quality of their lives.
When she was offered a Nokia phone costing around VND700,000 ($35) for having bought more than 80 kilogrammes of rice, Nguyen Thi Quy, 55, a ve chai dealer – whose trades in recyclable and reusable scrap – did not know how to operate it.
But a short time later, the "allo" (as she calls the phone) became so precious that she never leaves it for a moment.
"My hand phone helps me to keep in touch with my family at home all the time," said Quy, a native of Nghe An Province in central Viet Nam.
Phan Van Hang, who supplies young trees and bonsais to downtown areas as well as rural districts a hand phone has become indispensable. "I can use it to communicate with any customers at any time," Hang said. He added that since he bought a mobile phone, his sales have doubled.
Today, you can see almost all street vendors keeping a cell phone. Some of them have caught the bug and spend a lot of money to own a sophisticated device that can take pictures and send e-mails, although they use it only to call or send text messages. For now, that is.
It appears that smartphones are definitely going to help many people be part of the digital revolution and digital age that would otherwise bypass them. — VNS