Former prisoners and drug addicts help their community

January 30, 2021 - 08:26

A group of reformed prisoners and rehabilitated drug addicts now spend their time helping people who run into trouble on the streets in southern Viet Nam at night. 


Kim Ngọc Mỹ (right) and a member of the SOS team get ready to head to the streets to offer help. — Photo

BÌNH DƯƠNG — A group of reformed prisoners and rehabilitated drug addicts now spend their time helping people who run into trouble on the streets in southern Việt Nam at night. 

In Dĩ An Town, southern Bình Dương Province, the SOS team, including 50 members who are students, martial arts instructors and motorbike taxi drivers, rescues those in need at midnight by repairing their cars or motorbikes, taking patients to hospitals or assisting people who have accidents on the streets.

It was founded by the town’s People’s Committee and Red Cross and managed by Kim Ngọc Mỹ, a kindhearted man who helped rehabilitate the prisoners and drug addicts.

Ninety per cent of the members used to be gangsters and many were in prisons or addicted to drugs, Mỹ said.

Midnight is his busiest time for the team, when Mỹ gets phone calls one after another asking for assistance and then passing the job to the SOS team members.

Thanh Hải, 26 years old, is among the lucky young people rehabilitated by Mỹ and part of the team.

His mother Đặng Thị Duyên said: “If Hải had not met Uncle Mỹ, his life would have been ruined. More than 10 years ago, my son took all of the family's motorbikes and computers and even stole motorbikes from his friends and sold them to get money to buy drugs.”

Now thanks to Uncle Mỹ, Hải is no longer addicted and has a job. He is a Grab taxi motorbike driver during the day and is part of the SOS team every night. From 9pm to 2am, Hải and his mother stay on the streets to help out those in need.

Other members of the SOS team used to be in prison for gambling, causing public disorder or stabbing people.

Mỹ said all of the new members have to be tested for drugs. While they are working for the team, suspected members still need to take the tests.

Mỹ is very strict but the members all respect him.

“Rehabilitating those people is not easy. Sometimes we have to be tough, sometimes we must be tender,” he told Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper.

“What I feel the happiest about is that those people who had setbacks now can rehabilitate and help the community,” he said.

Mỹ said one night, there was an old woman who had a heart attack on the way to the hospital asking for help.

She was being transported by her family but the motorbike's tyres deflated in the middle of the road.

Upon receiving the call at 12pm on a heavily rainy night, five members of the SOS team headed to the street. Three of them took the woman to the hospital and two others helped repair the motorbike.

Mỹ said he could not remember how many people the team has helped.

“That is such a huge number. We receive the calls almost every night. Ten to 15 cases per night are very normal.”

“Many times we heard bad words or were beaten by drunken people on the street or those having traffic troubles.”

Despite hardship, they are always ready to offer help.

“We need sharing in our life. We believe that good things will return to us once we do good works,” Mỹ said. — VNS