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Generous tailor alters lives of hundreds

Update: February, 23/2014 - 20:39
Changing lives: Every year, the centre run by Tran Duyen Hai (right)provides free vocational training and creates jobs for hundreds of handicapped children so each of them can earn 1.5-2 million dong per month. — VNA/VNS Photo.

By offering free vocational training and shelter to the disabled and victims of human trafficking and domestic violence, Tran Duyen Hai helps them escape these desperate circumstances. Hong Thuy reports.

Life can be disappointing for people with physical or mental abnormalities. They can easily lose hope in life - and themselves.

Tran Duyen Hai, 76, is a saviour to hundreds, indeed thousands, of unfortunate children and adults whose life would have been at a dead end if he had not heard their cries for help. And he has arranged or provided free vocational training and jobs for hundreds of children with disabilities. He has also provided food and shelter for victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, drug abuse, and homelessness.

Twenty-year-old Dinh Giao Linh earns more than VND1 million (US$47) a month decorating wedding dresses since after finishing a three-month training course at Tran Duyen Hai's Linh Quang Centre for Humanitarian Vocational Training and Job Creation for Children in a back lane in Ha Noi. There are thousands of young people like Linh receiving training and employment at the centre. Linh is a little shy when talking about her wish to become an expert tailor like her teacher. This year, she plans to learn how to make a complete wedding dress.

Hai read about the lives of unfortunate people through the mass media. One of them was about A Pao who took his children to live in a cave after selling his house to buy alcohol. Hai contacted authorities in Cao Bang Province and asked for their permission to take the family to his centre in Ha Noi for shelter and food.

Owing to this kind action, A Pao soon had a job as a bicycle guard with a monthly salary of VND3 million ($140). But soon after he left the centre with his youngest son without telling anyone, leaving his nine year old son Sung A Lu behind.

Before going to the centre three years ago, Lu was the main breadwinner for the family after his mother was lured to China and sold by human traffickers. He made his money by gathering firewood and selling it. "I like living in the centre because there are lots of blankets," Lu says. His dream is simple - to become a car driver and search for his father and younger borther when he grows up.

Children at the centre call Hai "Philanthropic teacher". "Teacher Hai is like my second father," one says. Hai's charitable deeds arose out of finding poor and homeless children living around Hoan Kiem Lake. He found a shelter for them and gave them food to get by. Up until then, the children were often cruelly beaten for stealing money.

"What I did stemmed from my empathy for pitiful children. I wished they had cosy houses to live in and enough food to eat," says Hai, who is a tailor with a garment company in Ha Noi. First he trained three children to do outwork for clothing shops, then another seven. However, he kept his good deeds to himself, never telling his wife or friends.

"No one dared to accommodate homeless children at the time because they feared the police would question them about what they were doing," he says. Hai handed in his resignation to his company in 1983. Since then, he has been active in receiving homeless children at his centre located in a small alley called Van Chuong in Ha Noi's Dong Da District.

New skills: The teacher shows his students how to do embroidery. — VNA/VNS Photo

He signed contracts to do outsourcing for garment shops while teaching disabled or underprivileged children to make clothes. His friends also ran free tailoring classes, but, as time went by, his friends lost interest. However, Hai continues to provide free vocational training and jobs for disabled children.

Several times, Hai's wife suspected him of being involved in something dubious as he often used their own money to teach children. But after operating for 30 years, the centre has been home to thousands of unfortunate people who have been able to acquire training not only in tailoring, but also in embroidery, information technology, and mending electronic products.

The centre collaborates with enterprises to employ disabled children as soon as they have finished vocational training. It is one of the first centres in Ha Noi to provide training and jobs for the poor.

"I have survived many dangers that seemed impossible to surmount because some authorities accused our centre of disguised philanthropy," he says.

Hai has photos of President Ho Chi Minh and General Võo Nguyen Giap on his desk because he feels they pioneered the way for his work by sacrificing so much for the nation. "They remind me that what I have done is still too little, so I need to try more," he says, adding that he has escaped many dangers by following President Ho's advice to do whatever was advantageous for the people.

"My wife, children, and relatives, all advise me to stop doing charity work to enjoy the remaining years of my life," Hai says. "However, it would be the biggest loss in my life if I could not pursue it. There are a huge number of disabled children who need our help." — VNS

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