by Gia Loc
Inventive farmer wins award
With only an eighth-grade education, Nguyen Hong Chuong has torn apart old outdated machinery, peered into their innards, and made them anew.
For his efforts, the 39-year-old farmer from Lam Dong Province has been awarded a national certificate of creativity from Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
About seven years ago, Chuong began tinkering with old machines when he noticed that farmers were spending far too much time on seeding, planting and harvesting.
One of the machines he made for farmers, which is now sold throughout the country as well as in Laos, Malaysia, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, is an automatic seeding machine.
Chuong got the idea after seeing an automatic bottle capping machine on a television show.
He borrowed loans from banks to buy materials and worked on the machine, as well as others, over a two-year period.
In 2008, he began selling the machines, which are made in his small workshop, for more than VND55 million (US$2,600) each.
It was recognised as a Viet Nam brandname by the Viet Nam Union of Science and Technology Associations.
For his work on several machines, Chuong has received a certificate from the Viet Nam Outstanding Youth Creators and the National Outstanding Young People. The HCM City youth organisation also awarded him the Luong Dinh Cua Prize, which is given annually to outstanding farmers.
Student charity builds bridges
A sister and brother have founded the country's first charity operated and managed by students: the Build-a-Bridge project.
Dinh Thi Nam Phuong, 21, a student at Oxford University in England, and her brother Dinh Ba Khang, an 11th grader at the HCM City International School, set up the Nam Phuong Foundation to raise funds to build bridges in the country's remote areas.
Phuong raised funds from her fellow students at Oxford and Khang collected money from local sources.
With the funds, they were able to build a bridge in Tien Giang Province's My Thuan Hamlet in Cai Be District. Before the bridge was built, local residents had to take unsafe trips by boats across waterways.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in September last year approved and issued a permit for the students' foundation.
Teaching changes man's life
Le Van Hieu of Nghe An Province has returned to his old job as a primary school teacher but the venue is decidedly different from the previous one.
Hieu, who taught children at Duc Thanh Primary School and was later promoted to deputy rector, saw his life change dramatically on July 2, 2010.
Having heard from a neighbour that his brother was being beaten in a nearby village, Hieu rushed over to help. When he arrived, he stabbed one man to death with a sword that had been given to him by a friend, according to police.
Hieu, who had been drinking alcohol prior to the incident, became frightened and gave himself up to the police. Later, a court sentenced him to 11 years in prison.
Missing his students and teaching, Hieu fell into a depression. But his spirits were revived when prison officials decided to allow him to teach Vietnamese to illiterate prisoners. They did so because Hieu's behavior in prison had been exemplary and they wanted to give him a chance. — VNS