by Phuong Mai
Dancing with death
He is skinny and weak, but people tend not to forget it when he flashes his bright smile. And when he gets into his popping dance routine, they sit up and take notice.
Hoa Duc Cong impressed judges and audiences alike at the June 22 audition in Ha Noi for the second season of Thu Thach Cung Buoc Nhay, the Vietnamese version of So You Think You Can Dance.
He had taken part in the competition last year as well, but had to leave after reaching the semi-final because of failing health.
The 22-year-old dancer suffers from kidney failure phase four, the last stage of the disease.
On being diagnosed with serious renal failure when he was 16, Cong fell into depression because his parents, a motorbike-taxi (xe om) driver and a street vendor, were too poor to afford the treatment he needed.
But with the love and encouragement of his parents and members of the breakdance group, Big Toe, he was able to indulge in his passion for dancing and compete in national and regional contests.
In 2010, the Ha Noi-based dancer won the "Floor Killer" contest in Viet Nam, and a popping dance contest in Malaysia. He also took the second place at the 2012"Juste Debout" in Singapore.
"I'm not afraid of death, but I am afraid of not being able to dance any longer," he said.
He also said his only wish in life was to get a kidney transplant so can keep dancing.
With fans, local dancers, organisers of Thu Thach Cung Buoc Nhay and other sponsors pitching in, Cong was able to undergo a kidney transplant on June 24.
Nguyen Hai, project manager for Dong Tay Promotion, organiser of the reality show, said he and his colleagues admired Cong's talent and will power.
"We hope Cong overcomes the disease and gets better to take part in the contest next year."
Get up, stand up
The notice is clear: "Please give up your seats to pregnant women, children and elderly citizens."
Buses all over the world including Viet Nam carry this notice. But not many commuters seem to notice it these days.
On Route 5 that runs between Bien Hoa and HCM City, most commuters are those who travel for study and work.
Many pregnant women, children, patients and elderly people also use the bus to get to hospitals in the city.
But when they get on, people don't seem to think it is necessary to give up their seats.
Nguyen Phuong Thao, a pregnant woman from Bien Hoa who travels daily to work in District 3, said: "Sometimes the bus is full when I get in. I look around to see if someone will offer me a seat. But sadly, it does not happen."
She can only find a seat after the bus conductor tells a passenger that she/he has to give her/his seat to Thao.
"It is disappointing," Thao said.
The situation also happens with children, patients and the elderly.
"It is most important that people have a sense of public citizenship and caring, because we cannot come and ask them to give up their seats all the time," said Nguyen Minh Tien, a bus conductor on Route 5.
"I hope that young people will be more open hearted and not become selfish individuals. The quality of our lives will improve when people are kind and considerate to each other," Thao said. — VNS