|Nguyễn Tiến Dân prepares warm clothes to present to poor children. VNA/VNS Photo|
QUẢNG NGÃI - For nearly 22 years, Nguyễn Tiến Dân, a 71-year-old veteran from Quảng Ngãi Province, has been travelling to poor villages to help disadvantaged people.
Remembering the messages of his comrades, he has tried his best to help people since the country gained independence.
"Soldiers must sacrifice to protect the Fatherland when they fight on the battlefield. Unfortunately, I saw many of my comrades fall in war. However, I am fortunate to be still alive to see the country's reunification and development. That's why, even in peacetime, I always dedicate my efforts to the country, using my love to help poor children and difficult and unhappy families," Dân told Tin Tức online newspaper.
He volunteered to join the army in 1964.
After leaving the army, he moved to Đà Nẵng and worked at press agencies. Now he is still working as a reporter at the Tạp chí Văn hóa và Doanh nhân Việt Nam (Việt Nam Journal of Culture and Entrepreneurs) in the centre and central highlands.
The old soldier said: "When my comrades and I were fighting on the battlefield of Zone 5, my friends and comrades who were seriously injured asked me to help the poor students access education if I lived. That message remains in my mind. In 2000, I encountered many difficult circumstances and wanted to do charity while working as a reporter."
At the beginning of his charity work, without funds, he went to restaurants in Đà Nẵng city to ask for help buying books for poor students.
With his enthusiasm, he has received their support.
With his salary and allowance, he made his first volunteer trip to the central countryside, where poor students still lacked books and clothes.
"At first, I faced many difficulties. Many people did not know me or why I was doing charity work. It took time to build trust before people would work with me."
He said transparency and clarity were very important in doing charity work.
He always publicises the money and gifts he receives from benefactors and writes letters to thank them.
With his clear way of doing charity, Dân receives a lot of attention and donations from many individuals and organisations.
Once, he received VNĐ1.4 billion (US$59,500) from benefactors.
Over the past 22 years, the old soldier has helped many pupils and students with difficulties maintain their studying.
Phạm Thu Thảo, a former student of Thái Phiên High School in Đà Nẵng, is one of the many children who have been supported by Dân.
Thảo's mother died when she was young. Thảo lives with her grandmother because her father married again.
She had to work overtime to cover her study and living expenses. Understanding Thảo's situation, Dân quietly provided her VNĐ900,000 per month.
"Although I helped Thảo until she graduated from college. But I have never met her until now. I used my war invalids allowance and asked the school to send it to her," said Dân.
Every year, Dân conducts ten charity trips, travelling to communes and villages to help needy people.
"I had often had to walk many kilometres to get to my destination. However, the most memorable day was a charity trip to Ba Tơ District. First, I had to travel by canoe across a big lake. Then, I walked 4km to the family that needed gifts."
"I was tired and exhausted but very happy when I saw them."
"After each successful trip, I try harder to reach others in need," Dân said.
In 2017, Dân decided to donate his organs to science when he dies. His donation was accepted by the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Đà Nẵng University.
He said: "Death is not the end. It is the beginning of a new life. Organ donations can give life to others. So, I want to donate my body to the medical profession."
|Nguyễn Tiến Dân (left) presents face masks to Thanh Khê District during COVID-19 pandemic. VNA/VNS Photo|
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dân called on his friends and used his own money to buy more than 2,000 face masks to donate to the poor and students in Thanh Khê District. He also provided four tonnes of rice to the poor in Quảng Nam and Quảng Ngãi provinces and participated in the community-based COVID-19 prevention group to call on everyone to strictly observe pandemic prevention work.
He has also supported teams in finding and bringing martyrs' remains to their families.
"I will do charity work as long as I can. I hope my work can spread to society and everyone can help more difficult and unhappy people." VNS