by Gia Loc
Violators of beer ban must do hard labour, give up a few pigs
With 31.7 litres per person, the consumption of beer and other alcoholic beverages in Viet Nam ranks fifth in Asia, according to the Viet Nam Beer - Alcohol - Beverage Association.
However, in some villages in the country, alcoholic beverages at parties and celebrations have been banned.
Quang Nam Province's Nuoc Ngheu Village, with more than 127 ethnic Ca Dong households, has enacted a ban. And the village of 600 Mong people in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong did so in 2000.
Instead of wine or beer, guests are offered tea and soft drinks.
Elderly people in the H'mong village said that men at parties often drank from early morning until midnight in the past. Besides, the men returned home drunk after their weekly trip to the market.
In 1999, four men died from alcohol poisoning on their way back home from the market. After that, the village's head Giang A Loan organised a meeting and issued the ban.
He gave the drinkers six months to give up their habit. After that, anyone found drinking alcoholic beverages would have to do hard labour such as working on a new road or give up two of their pigs. Three or four people were found in violation, but by the end of 1999, the village was free of heavy drinkers.
In Nuoc Ngheu Village in Quang Nam Province, village head Nguyen Van Hai says the elderly issued a ban on alcohol in 1975 when the village was established.
Nguyen Thi Le, 57, who lives in the village, says that her husband returns home from a hard day at work to take care of and teach their children.
Teacher raises funds to buy prosthetic legs for 5-year-old
A photo of a 5-year-old boy walking on his hands down a mountain to the main road in northern Ha Giang Province was posted on Facebook last year. Among the many people who found it especially moving was Nguyen Khanh Ha, a teacher at Nguyen Trai Primary School in the province.
Soon after seeing the image, Ha called on her friends to help buy prosthetic legs for the boy, Giang Mi Lenh. Her friends in Ha Noi agreed to help her.
Finding Lenh, however, was a different matter. The person who took the photo knew nothing about the boy, but Ha eventually found his house and convinced his family and local authorities to bring him to Ha Noi for a fitting for the legs.
Lenh's family is poor. His father often travels across the border to China to find work, and his mother works as a labourer in maize fields.
On weekends, Ha rode her motorbike 240 kilometres from Bac Giang District where she lives to Meo Vac District to help Lenh practise walking. Ha also encouraged him to stop begging from tourists and enroll at Pa Vi Primary School. Besides giving assistance to Lenh, Ha donated funds to the family to help them upgrade their house.
Sung Thi May, 29, Lenh's mother, cried when she finally saw Lenh walk. The boy was not born disabled but, at the age of several months, suffered severe burns when he put his feet inside a stove. — VNS