|Nguyễn Trọng Toản (middle) and his twinned brother, Rơ Mah Hơn. — Photo tuoitre.vn
KON TUM — In 2017, not long after starting working for Company 78 under Legion No 15 in Sa Thầy District, the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum, the family of Ja Rai ethnic Y Hoăn was twinned with the family of Vũ Thị Bắc, a company veteran.
“Even before the twining ceremony we found we had many things in common,” Bắc told Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper. “I taught them rubber tapping techniques. They work hard and are always eager to help others.”
“My wife and I had to have meals at the company at first as we did not have any cooking equipment. Knowing we wanted to cook ourselves, Bắc took us to her home and told us to take everything we needed. We love each other just like blood siblings. How lucky I am to have such a good sister,” said Y Hoăn.
The twinned families of Y Hoăn and Bắc are just two of 452 families connected in the past 15 years in Sa Thầy District, following an initiative of Nguyễn Xuân Minh, the first director of Company 78.
Though Company 78 is part of the military, many of the staff are not soldiers but ordinary citizens with families working the land as many others do.
In 2004, during a visit to A Lá, former Secretary of Mô Rai Commune Party’s Committee, Minh met Dậu, a company worker.
Working away from home, Dậu was received by A Lá as his son, helping him through ups and downs.
Being inspired by their story, Minh and other members of the board of directors decided to launch a family twinning campaign.
“Each family of the company bonds with a local family to help each other establish livelihoods, eliminate poverty and ensure safety,” Minh explained.
In the first year, 200 families were connected. The number has risen to nearly 1,000.
“Half of the company’s families are twinned with local ones. At present, we encourage families of veterans to twin with newbies. Thanks to the initiative, we recruited 170 new workers in the first month of 2019. Some people said that family twinning helps ease their homesickness and demonstrate better commitment to their jobs here,” said Major Nguyễn Hồng Lam, the company director.
Fate brought the families of Nguyễn Trọng Toản, a worker of Company 74 in Đức Cơ District, the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, and Rơ Mah Hơn, a Ja Rai ethnic, together two decades ago.
“When rubber plants were small, we wanted to ultilise land to grow rice. Having no idea which type of rice was suitable to the local soil, I was offered a basket of seeds by Mah Hơn’s mother. The basket was a family treasure. I was so moved by their generosity,” said Toản.
In 2006, when his company first piloted the twinning programme, the families of Toản and Mah Hơn were the pioneers.
“We feel included in Mah Hơn’s family. Living away from my hometown, they give us the cosy feeling of being home,” Toàn added.
Ksor Lương, a resident of Kom Yố Village in Ia Chía Commune, Ia Grai District, said his life had improved after being twinned with Đậu Thành, a Company 74 nurse.
“Thành gives me good advice in doing business. In the past, a bicycle was a luxury. Now, I own a truck,” he said.
“Thành advised us to plant coffee in the vast land behind our house which later became a motivation to escape from poverty. My family also has some 1,000 rubber plants and two hectares of cashew. Before, we earned just enough to make ends meet. Now, everything has changed,” Ksor Lương added.
Up to 78 per cent of Company 74’s rubber tappers are ethnic minority people.
Senior Lieutenant Colonel Nguyễn Mạnh Cường, deputy director of the company, said that under the initiative’s framework, local residents had learned new farming techniques and improved local conditions. — VNS