Nguyễn Trung Chắt and the children on a visit to Hà Nội. Photo baodantoc.vn
HÀ NỘI – The Hy Vọng Tiên Cầu Centre in Hiệp Cường Commune, the northern province of Hưng Yên’s Kim Động District is often filled with the laughter of more than 100 orphans.
Its founder, Nguyễn Trung Chắt, a local man has spent 17 years caring for the children.
Chắt, 67, was born to a poor farming family in Phú Cường Village.
In 1992, he participated in some UNESCO orphan projects in Việt Nam. At that time, he visited many orphanages, and met many children with hardships.
He witnessed abandoned babies just several days old, wrapped in torn clothes, left in bags or boxes by roads, in bushes or in front of hospitals. In 2004, he set up the centre that was initially located in a house owned by Kim Động District’s education department.
“I intended to spend money upgrading the house, but during the repair process, the house collapsed because it was too old,” he said.
Chắt decided to borrow money from relatives and friends and took all his savings to rebuild the two-floor house at a cost of more than VNĐ300 million (US$13,000)
"They are unlucky children, many of whom have been abandoned by their parents when they were born,” Chắt said “Several children were just a few days old when they were abandoned, deprived of breast milk and getting cold on the street as they were just wrapped in old cloths.
“Many children lost their parents due to accidents or illness. Their grandparents can’t look after them, so they are sent to the centre.”
He remembered at first, the centre received 24 orphans.
Initially, the centre only adopted children at age of six or older but as he saw many young babies abandoned, he decided to help them.
Chắt brings hope to orphans, according to local residents.
Đào Thị Luyến, 14, born in a poor family in Ngọc Thanh Commune, Kim Động District, suffered from congenital heart disease and had to drop out of school.
Chắt took Luyến to the centre to look after her. In 2011, Chắt and others funded a heart operation at Hà Nội’s Việt Đức Hospital for Luyến. After surgery, she recovered and is now healthy.
Besides Chắt, the centre now has three caregivers.
“We always love the orphans like our own children,” said Nguyễn Thị Với, 45, a caregiver at the centre.
“We are willing to be their mothers to take care of them and educate them.”
To minimise living expenses, caregivers and older children have to plant vegetables and breed fish and poultry for their daily meals, though individuals, social organisations and local authorities have donated money and gifts to improve the children’s living conditions.
Every month, the centre uses its limited budget to buy milk, books and necessary personal items for the children.
Chắt said many older children were studying at the district’s vocational training school with a hope that after leaving the school, they could support themselves.
Over the past 15 years since its establishment, hundreds of orphans have been raised with the unconditional love of Chắt, caregivers and kind benefactors nationwide. VNS