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Library brings books to poor rural area

Update: August, 24/2014 - 19:29
Overcoming obstacles: Tran Thuy Nga wants to bring knowledge to poor children, no matter what difficulties she faces in life. — Photo

Determined to help others despite her disability, Tran Thuy Nga opened a library for poor students. Le Quyet reports.

Tran Thuy Nga, born in 1985, is the youngest in a family of four brothers and sisters in Nghia Dong Commune, Tan Ky District, in the central province of Nghe An.

She was born healthy and was a good student. Her dream was to become a good teacher in her poor neighborhood.

In 1998, Nga completed her seventh class and was enjoying her summer vacation when she felt a sudden severe pain in her knuckles.

At first she thought it was the result of playing tug-of-war in school. However, despite receiving some treatment, her pain didn't go away. In fact, each night, the severe pain in the joints of her hands increased, and then spread to all the joints, knees and ankles.

Her mother, Ngo Thi Lien, took Nga to the hospital for examination. The doctors said Nga has heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Her parents tried their best and took Nga to various hospitals, and even to herb doctors. Nga took so many drugs that she became thin, but the pain still didn't disappear.

At the end of 1998, Nga returned home from a hospital in HCM City when she had to stop taking western drugs. After that she could not use her legs even to stand up and walk.

After the effect of the pain-killers receded, the intermittent pain in the joints became more intense, especially during cold weather when Nga coughed incessantly.

"I know the disease cannot be cured. But each time my mother introduced a new doctor who then asked me to use a new drug, I would have some hope. Despite many attempts, the disease still persist and my legs gradually became atrophied. I cried a lot seeing friends go to school. I wish to learn and become a teacher, but the cruel disease took my dream away," she said, talking about her sad days.

Many times Nga wanted to sleep and never wake up again. But she thought about her loved ones. "Mom and my brothers have great hope for me, so I cannot die like this," she said.

As she no longer goes to school, Nga has become familiar with the four walls of her room, and her wheelchair is a close friend.

Through books and television, Nga knows about several disabled persons who have beaten their fate and are respected by society. These people have given her strength and determination to live.

With the help of friends and family, Nga established her own library filled with various kinds of books to help poor students, at a time when a library was still considered luxury in this poor countryside area.

The idea came from her older sister, Tran Lan Phuong, who was a worker in HCM City and often sent books to Nga for her entertainment. Her friends too bought books for Nga. By the end of 1999, she had a large collection of books.

In 2004, her older brother gave Nga money to buy a wheelchair. As she had faith in life, Nga wanted to do something useful. So she began collecting books to set up her own library.

She allows students who come to read for free such titles as Chicken Soup for the Soul, Gift of Life, books on life skills, literature and about personalities.

But she also lends readers other books for a small sum.

From the money she gets, she buys more books to expand the library. It helps Nga to make some money, to follow her hobby of reading and also to spread the culture of reading, especially among poor students.

From the original few books, she has more than 3,000 titles now after more than 10 years in small library.

The walls of the library are decorated with quotations and proverbs about learning, reading and good behaviour.

Nga no longer spends whole nights crying. Instead, she has started to paint and has learnt to use the computer with her twisted fingers. She learns useful things about the outside world through the Internet.

She is learning English too, practises writing for the press, and writes stories for students and also stories surrounding her daily life. She has published numerous articles in several newspapers and magazines. She has made dozens of paintings with delicate brushstrokes that few people know are the work of twitching hands.

Talking about her library, Nga said: "I want to do something meaningful and I was thinking of books. The library not only fulfills my dream but also helps poor students have access to books, bringing the reading culture to children.

"My biggest dream is to have a lot more books so that I can build a larger library for those who love reading and come to read books for free." — VNS

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