|Grandma Thuỷ caring a child with injuries. Photo tuoitre.vn|
HCM CITY – An elderly woman has taught hundreds of poor children over the last 16 years and earned the nickname Grandma Thuỷ from her students.
Trần Thị Thanh Thuỷ takes care of the poor children in her charity class in Bình Trưng Đông Ward, District 2 of HCM City.
The classes were set up by Thuỷ and some close friends to teach poor children whose parents are migrants working as xe ôm (motorbike taxi drivers), street vendors and garbage collectors.
The classes are held three times a week at 5pm.
“Initially, many children came to class not for studying but food,” Thuỷ told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper.
“Because they were poor children and their parents left home from early morning for earning money. They were always hungry,” Thuỷ said.
“When they came to the classes, we invited them for some snacks or noodle soup before starting lessons,” she said.
Huỳnh Kim Loan, a girl living in Cây Da Ward, said: “Thanks to grandma Thuỷ’s class, I can read and write.”
Loan's life is very tough as her mother with a mental illness lives in a social centre and her father works as a hired gardener.
Loan and her father live in a makeshift tent in the garden where the father works.
The father and daughter have no household registration or temporary residence papers, so Loan could not register for any school.
Thanks to Thuỷ’s class, the girl learned to read and write and entered the first grade in primary school when she was 14.
To apply for Loan's enrollment in grade 1, Thuỷ had to contact many people and then tailor a uniform for Loan.
Forty-six years ago, Thuỷ was studying to become a preschool teacher but had to drop out after an accident damaged her legs and forced her to use crutches.
Then she got married, opened a vegetable stall in a market and made fruit cakes at home to make a living.
After her children grew up, she moved to Bình Trưng Đông Ward and joined the residential civil group which helped her get to know her neighbours.
She found that there were many migrants in her neighbourhood.
“The migrant families were so poor that their children did not have enough food and could not go to school, even many had to wander in the cemetery to take offerings to eat or sell for some pennies,” Thuỷ said.
The kindhearted woman decided to do something for the children.
Every day, she gathered the children to cut their hair, nails, pick lice, run them a bath and cook for them.
“In the very first days, there were few children coming to me. But the days after, more and more children came. I started to worry about how to take care of and feed them,” said Thuỷ.
Then, she asked some friends and the ward’s women's union to organise a charity kitchen and class for the children.
Some graduates from class have since come back to help Grandma Thuỷ tutor others.
After taking care of the children, Thuỷ also helps find the children's parents' work.
She set up clubs for housemaids, cooking and cake making to help migrant women.
Thuỷ has twice been honoured by the HCM City’s People's Committee with the title 'Silent but Noble Examples'. – VNS