Trần Văn Cao, 85, a farmer with his love and respect to President Hồ Chí Minh has spent about 50 years of life collecting photos and documents about life and career of the President. VNA/VNS Photo Đinh Thuận
By Đinh Thuận
HÀ NỘI The small house in the small village looks like any other on the outskirts of Hà Nội, but what's inside is astounding.
Owned by Trần Văn Cao, an old farmer in Đại Phẩm Village of the capital's Chương Mỹ District, about 20km from the city centre, the house is locally known as a museum with hundreds of photos and items about President Hồ Chí Minh.
The farmer made one room into an exhibition centre called 'Uncle Hồ's memorial hall' after spending 30 years researching and collecting more than 300 photos and stories about President Hồ’s life and career.
Cao, 85, a rustic man with boundless affection for the late President was thrilled to discuss his collection.
“They are really unforgettable memories. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I always try to focus on looking for documents and photos of Uncle Hồ. I also tried to learn about his life and career through books, newspapers and TV programmes. This helps me trace the materials for my collection,” Cao said.
Before working in water irrigation, Cao was a farmer so after retiring, he still worked hard in the fields to support his family.
“Although life was sometimes really hard for me and my family, whenever I thought of Uncle Hồ and the Party, I had a special respect for him,” Cao said.
The collector added that was why he decided to collect the photos and documents about the President to express his love towards him.
Hà Nội is home to many revolutionary and historical relics called “red addresses” where President Hồ Chí Minh once stayed, lived or worked, such as those inside the Presidential Palace; at 48 Hàng Ngang Street in Hoàn Kiếm District where the President wrote the Declaration of Independence; Uncle Hồ's memorial house in Vạn Phúc Village, Hà Đông District where he launched an appeal for national resistance against the French and the K9 area in Ba Vì District where he and other Vietnamese Party and State leaders worked during the war.
President Hồ’s memorial hall in Cao’s house always impresses visitors as the owner is enthusiastic to introduce the items in the room with all of his love towards the national hero.
Sometimes he even cries when telling stories about when President Hồ was imprisoned in China by the Chiang Kai-shek government or when he sat in a tent commanding the fight against the French colonialists.
Always wearing a white shirt and a plain brown hat, Cao dresses simply, just like his idol did.
In the exhibition room which is also decorated with very simple furniture such as an old table and a shelf for placing a small old TV set, Cao's photo display is particularly striking.
The highlight of the room is a large photo of President Hồ in the middle of the front wall and others which have been framed and hung around the room.
There are some paintings of historical relics such as Nhà Rồng Pier in HCM City, President Hồ Chí Minh's Mausoleum and his stilt house in the Presidential Palace in Hà Nội that Cao said he had drawn himself.
The memorial room is highlighted by a large image of Uncle Hồ in the middle of the wall and many others around. VNA/VNS Photo Đinh Thuận
Talking about some pictures hanging in the house, the collector revealed they were left by his grandparents who also collected photos of the President.
“I found such photos were hung in the most respectful ways in our grandparents’ home since I was very young. Many dozens of years have passed but such images followed our family till now and we consider them the most precious souvenirs of our forefathers,” Cao said.
Like many other farmers in the villages, Cao said he had to work hard all of his life to earn a living and support his family with four children.
In 2003, Cao was able to build a new house with three floors.
The house is his pride and joy and that pride has only grown since he preserved the top floor for his museum.
Cao said he got total support from everyone in the family when he got the idea to build the memorial room.
“It is because they understand that I always had respectful and sacred feelings towards Uncle Hồ,” he said.
Cao said he built the memorial room and also wrote a historical song about the Party, President Hồ, and the revolution to please the people in his countryside area.
Many people find it hard to believe a farmer like him whose hands were always covered with mud had spent time collecting such a great amount of pictures about President Hồ.
Cao is presenting to visitors the photos of Uncle Hồ that he has collected and exhibited in the memorial room of his house. VNA/VNS Photo Đinh Thuận
Along with the photo collection, Cao composed a historical epic of 1,456 verses and compiled nearly 100 pages of writings about President Hồ, the revolution and resistance wars
From the beginning of 2020, when the memorial hall was completed and opened to the public, Cao's house became a gathering place for visitors and locals to come admire the collection.
All the photos are exhibited featuring different times and milestones of President Hồ’s life and career from the first day he left the country to find a way to save the nation until the last moments of his life.
The house is often crowded with villagers and members of social organisations and has become the pride of both Đại Phẩm Village and Đại Yên Commune, according to villagers.
Nguyễn Văn Đắc, a retired teacher in the neighbouring village of Đường in Đại Yên Commune, expressed his admiration for Cao’s knowledge about the President while visiting the room and listening to him speak.
“Like everyone in my village, I respect the affection and gratitude of the collector for Uncle Hồ,” said Đắc.
Đại Yên Commune’s Party Committee Secretary Đặng Tiến Hoàng said the memorial hall in Cao’s house was a meaningful model of traditional education.
“The room has helped promote a local campaign to study and follow the ideology, morality and lifestyle of Hồ Chí Minh,” Hoàng said.
The official said since Cao opened the room to visitors, Đại Yên communal authority had organised field trips for officials, Party members and social organisations in the commune to visit the room to improve their knowledge about the national hero and the Vietnamese revolution. VNS