Viet Nam News
QUẢNG NGHÃI — Two years ago, Trỗi did not attend the new school year ceremony of Sơn Thượng Secondary School in central Quảng Ngãi Province’s Sơn Hà mountainous District.
Đinh Văn Trỗi, 13, from a poverty-stricken family in Gò Ren Hamlet, had to “play truant” on that day to travel tens of kilometres to Sơn Tây District to earn money to support his family.
His house was seriously deteriorated and the whole family had to live temporarily in the kitchen for fear of collapse. They find it hard to afford three meals a day, so sending the children to school is a luxury that his family cannot afford.
Acknowledging the problem, his teacher Đặng Trung Thắng decided to help cover all tuition fees for Trỗi, as well as learning materials to help Trỗi come back to school.
Thắng mobilised local people to help rebuild the Trỗi’s family’s house.
“He (Thắng) also bought a bike for me to help me get to school easier, as well as clothes and food,” Trỗi told Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper.
Thắng is among 640 teachers in the province’s Sơn Hà District who voluntarily sponsor 643 disadvantaged pupils at different levels of education in the district, from kindergartens to high school students. The teachers have not only provided the kids with material support, but also moral and spiritual support, becoming what the families see as godparents.
As an exam is approaching, teacher Từ Phương Thảo of Sơn Bao Secondary School goes to Đinh Văn Nu’s house after school to help him study.
Nu’s family is among the poorest in Sơn Bao Commune, and his parents have to leave home to work in other localities. The 13-year-old pupil has had to live alone for many years. Without his parents’ care, Nu has failed to study well, and often missed school.
Since 2016, teacher Thảo decided to stay at Nu’s house to help him study as well as take care of him. With Thảo’s assistance, Nu gradually acknowledged the importance of education and came back to school.
“Living with teacher Thảo, I no longer feel lonely,” Nu told the newspaper.
In this mountainous district, poverty and low awareness of local people have deprived education opportunities of many children. These teachers often have to come to each village to mobilise children and their families to let the kids go to school. They have had to overcome many difficulties in the process.
Teacher Đinh Văn Tờ remembers two years ago when he rode a motorbike to Chai Village in Sơn Ba Commune to encourage two pupils to come back to school.
“The village is deep in the mountains. My motorbike was swept away by strong water when crossing a spring. My bag and teaching documents were also swept away. I held a tree tightly and was lucky enough to survive,” he told the newspaper.
“However, it was worth it. I managed to get both pupils back to school,” he said.
Teacher Trần Thị Trang from Sơn Thủy Primary School could not hold back her tears when recalling the days she went to the house of Đinh Thị Cha, now a fifth grade student, to convince the family to send Cha back to school.
Cha’s grandparents were determined not to allow Cha to go to school, and cursed Trang to leave. Nonetheless she spared no efforts to persuade them.
“Her grandparents said Cha had to work to earn money to support the family. There is no need to study, they said, the most important thing is to earn money to buy food,” Trang recalled.
After many visits, her grandparents agreed for Cha to go to school on the condition that Trang had to supply food to Cha’s family.
The 25-year-old teacher has since had to use part of her monthly salary of VNĐ3 million (US$133) to buy food for Cha’s family for the past two years.
“I will continue accompanying her, even when she moves to secondary school. It can be hard for me but I just need Cha to study well at school,” Trang said.
Deputy head of the Education and Training Office of Sơn Hà District Nguyễn Thị Thành told the newspaper that she started the campaign in 2016 to mobilise each local teacher to sponsor one poor pupil after seeing how many poor pupils were dropping out of school.
“At that time, I only hoped to keep the children at school. But beyond my expectations, the teachers have helped the children to develop as adults, and helped them to study better,” she said.
“I was unable to count how many clothes, books, learning materials, bikes and other things that these teachers provided for the poor children," Thành said. "Either they bought these items with their own money, or they rallied the community together to help. All of this they did out of love and responsibility for these children."
“These teachers are so amazing and I am so lucky to have them. Thank you all,” she said. — VNS