|Lê Văn Liêm (right) teaches a trainee at his workshop. — VNA/VNS Photo Huỳnh Phúc Hậu|
BẾN TRE — Lê Văn Liêm was born into a poor family and had to quit school in the 9th grade to earn a living.
When he was 21 years old, after finishing military service, Liêm returned to his hometown in Tân Hội Commune, in the southern province of Bến Tre to work as a bicycle repairman.
Seeing that more and more people were buying motorbikes, he saved money so he could learn to fix them.
Once Liêm opened a motorcycle workshop, he studied one last skill – welding, to repair simple tools for local residents.
At that time, local residents spun coconut fiber with simple machinery. When the spinners broke, they asked Liêm to repair them.
One of them asked Liêm, “Why don’t you create a machine which can spin coconut fiber automatically to make it easier for us?”
After that, Liêm began to brainstorm the machine.
“The most daring decision in my life was closing the motorbike workshop to develop a coconut fiber spinning machine,” said Liêm.
Most of his family’s valuable items were sold to fund his research.
Every member of his family, including his wife, opposed the plan. They thought Liêm had gone mad.
After five years of research, Liêm successfully built the first prototype of the machine.
Liêm said that the machine helped increase working capacity by 24 times compared with the traditional method.
Liêm’s machines are now sold not only in Bến Tre Province, but also neighbouring provinces including Trà Vinh and Vĩnh Long.
So far Liêm has sold 400 machines.
Liêm’s reputation spread and soon many families were asking Liêm to train their children.
Nguyễn Thanh Vũ, 22, from Tân Hội Commune, studied at Liêm’s workshop for three years. Now Vũ is skillful and is paid a monthly salary of VNĐ5 million (US$220) by Liêm.
Liêm said, “My only request when taking on trainees is that they have a passion for mechanics.”
Now Liêm has eight trainees, all from poor families.
Over the past 10 years, Liêm has given free training to nearly 50 young people.
They learned a variety of skills, including welding. Although they don’t have official certificates, all were employed by private workshops and companies. Six of Liêm’s trainees travelled to work in Japan.
Võ Văn Khắc Điệp, deputy chairman of the Tân Hội Commune People’s Committee said that Liêm’s vocational training had brought effective results in building a new rural lifestyle in the commune.
Liêm’s work also helped promote young people’s determination to start their own enterprises, said Điệp.
The commune and local authorities would help resolve difficulties with the workshop so that it could develop even further, he said. — VNS