by Van Dat
Multilingual village deep in a Central Highlands forest
Even 10-year-olds in Chu Mom Ray Village in Kon Tum City can speak three languages: the ethnic dialect, Lao and Khmer. Some know English as well.
The village, located more than 150km from the City, is home to the Ro Mam ethnic minority who live in the northern area of the Central Highlands. It is located on Chu Mom Ray mountain range at 1,773 metres above sea level.
Villager A Ren, who speaks about 10 dialects, says most of the locals can speak Lao, Khmer and Thai.
Another villager, A Lunh, says the Ro Mam people do not have good living conditions, but their knowledge is as good as many others.
Particularly they are well-known for their ability to learn several languages.
Village patriarch Blong, who was 90 at his death, could speak 20 languages, including French and English. When Viet Nam was colonised by the French and was invaded by the Americans, he represented the village and protected the residents.
Because of the village's small population and the need to survive in the jungle, the Ro Mam people have had to learn other languages to exchange products with ethnic groups and Laotians who live on the other side of the border.
Other ethnic groups, who admire the Ro Mam people for their multilingualism, show them a great deal of respect.
When asked how they can learn without books, the villagers are unable to give a definitive answer, although they explain that it is necessary for survival. But their typical reply is that it is "a gift from the gods".
Elderly man devoted to caring for 113-year-old mother
Nguyen Van Duc, the 85-year-old son of Tran Thi Nguy, who is now 113, is famed in Ben Tre Province for his devoted care of his mother.
Every day, Duc, whose family lives in sleepy An Thanh Commune in Thanh Phu District, feeds his mother and helps her get to sleep. He also cleans the house and bikes to the market to buy food for his 77-year-old wife, who cooks meals for the family.
Duc, who is still in good health, works hard on his one-hectare paddy farm. Besides his daily chores and labour in the fields, he never forgets to give his mother, the eldest person in the village, a lovely kiss every day.
When she is sick, Duc will carry the slender woman on his back to the hospital, which is several kilometres away, according to neighbours.
He proudly tells everyone that his mother is still mentally sharp and has nice skin.
Every time he leaves or returns home, he addresses his mother in a respectful way, just as did when he was a child.
Duc says his biggest wish is to see his mother live happily and healthily. Everyone in the village finds his filial devotion to his mother a very moving sight. — VNS