|Phạm Văn Lượng, in blue, sharing about his past and his road to reform. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoài Thu
ĐẮK LẮK — Leaving behind his past as a two-time prisoner, Phạm Văn Lương is determined to start his life all over again.
Born in 1987 at Nga Sơn, Thanh Hoá, Lương moved to Đắk Lắk with his parents at the age of 10. In his first years of relocation, life was hard and forced Lương to quit school and help his parents with their field work.
Around the age of 17, Lương learnt carpentry work, but was goaded by loggers to illegally exploit forests in Gia Lai. Once, they had their vehicles and wood seized by the police but tried to steal them back and were eventually captured. Lương was sentenced to five years and six months in prison for robbery.
Due to his good attitude at the prison, Lương was eligible for amnesty and was freed four months early. After returning to his family, Lương felt bad about his life and wealth, quit carpentry and went back to criminal ways.
He seized money from farmers in order to "protect" their business, and was again captured and sentenced for two years in prison for extortion.
In prison for the second time in his life, Lương was depressed and blamed himself. The prison wardens encouraged him to turn over a new leaf and do good, and Lương was determined to do it after he got out of prison in August 2020.
With VNĐ20 million of funding from the Fund for Society Reintegration and funding from his family, Lương started a small carpentry workshop. The workshop then expanded with two facilities with capital of VNĐ1 billion (US$42,471).
Lương also helped many former convicts by creating carpentry jobs for them, with salaries ranging from VNĐ6-15 million ($254-637) a month. Currently, there are six former prisoners working in Lương's workshop.
"I was in prison for two years for drug trafficking. After I was freed from prison, Lương talked to me and offered me an internship at the carpentry," said Triệu Văn Dương, a former convict turned carpenter.
Dương is now the lead carpenter and his family's breadwinner. Dương, as well as other people working in the workshop, is regarded as family and brothers to Lương.
"Because of Lương's encouragement and inspiration, I will not go back to my earlier path," said Dương.
Sharing about future plans, Lương said that he will continue to invest in the workshop, creating jobs and opportunities for reforming former convicts, as well as taking care of his two-hectare field.
"It is because of the Government's generosity and help that people like me can get a second chance to right our wrongs," said Lương. "That is why I am determined to build my business from the ground up until today."
The rate of former convicts returning to crime in Krông Búk District is 0.008 per cent. This is due to police officers such as Lieutenant Colonel Y Phia Mlô who constantly keep contact and encourage former prisoners.
"We try to find out about them, what is troubling them, and the situation they are in," said Mlô. "We try to create opportunities and funding for former convicts to start their own business, and we hope that authorities can create more of these so that more people can get their second chance."
Lương said, "The mistakes I made in the past gave me seven years away from my family, seven years without freedom.
"I hope that young people can start to think straight, and that people who were in my shoes should not be negative and believe in a second chance." — VNS