7 uplifting stories from Vietnam to realize 2017 was not such a bad year after all

By Vi Vu   December 22, 2017 | 07:44 pm PT
Restore your faith in human kind with these touching tales.

Shoe cleaning boy receives warm gift for winter

An 18-year-old girl from the central province of Nghe An gave a shoe cleaning boy a leather coat after spotting him shivering on a street corner in temperatures of 16 degrees Celcius (61 degrees Fahrenheit) in November.

“He did not have many clothes on,” said Phan Minh Anh. She said she had given him VND20,000 (nearly $1) but she realized it was not enough, so she went away and bought him a coat.

She also found out that the boy was an orphan and was fending for himself. “He reminded me of my younger brother, who has parents to give him full meals and warm clothes,” Anh said. A passer-by captured the act and shared the video on Facebook.

Men save Saigon’s flood victims with free bike repair


A photo taken in November 2017 shows motorbike drivers being helped by volunteers after coming off their bikes on a flooded street in Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

As high tides flooded Le Van Luong Street in southern Saigon on a recent evening, a 42-year-old man with a deformed leg put up a sign on the corner of the street, saying: “Free repair for broken bikes.”

He was quickly joined by around 10 other men who got to work helping people whose motorbikes had cut out in the water. They pulled the vehicles onto the sidewalk, cleaned the spark plugs and restarted the bikes in minutes, all for free. A repair shop would have charged VND50,000-70,000 ($2.2-3) per bike, said the people who were helped.

Scrap boy tidies up shoes on Saigon street


A photo shared on Facebook shows a 5-year-old scrap collector arranging shoes for teachers and school children on the street while they were on a field trip.

A boy was walking around Saigon's streets picking up scraps to sell with his mother one morning in March when he saw a group of children his age on a field trip in front of the Saigon Post Office.

The boy decided to stop because the shoes were not with those belonging to the rest of the group, and he dutifully moved them closer.

The act was captured and shared and won a lot of hearts on Facebook. People then donated money to help his mother find a better job, and two schools in the area offered to teach the 5-year-old boy, Nguyen Giang Thanh Dat, for free.

Taxi turns into ambulance to help road crash victim

20-year-old taxi driver Nguyen Van Dat arrived at the scene of a traffic accident in the central province of Thanh Hoa in May, where a victim was in urgent need of hospital attention.

The woman was unconscious lying in a pool of blood so he called his company and was instructed to provide help. His passenger also agreed to wait for another taxi. The woman was lifted into the backseat of the car on a wooden panel that was too long for the doors to shut.

Her husband and son traveled in the taxi and held the doors to make sure they did not swing open. Another family member drove ahead on a motorbike to warn other road-users. “I know it was dangerous, but it was urgent and I could not think of another way,” Dat said.

Traffic police were considering punishing him for violating road safety regulations, but strong public support made them reconsider.

Boy reunited with mother after living alone for 2 years

Tran Quoc Loc, 9, lives in a small hut in the middle of a cemetery in a poor rural village in the central province of Quang Tri. He lived alone there for more than two years until he recently captured media attention.

His mother, Tran Thi Nhan, 40, had gone to Saigon to wash dishes for a restaurant for VND3 million ($132) a month. She only returned after a relative called her saying people had been visiting her house with cameras, which made her worried about her son.

Nhan said she left Loc with his older brother, but he had also left to work on a plantation across the country. “I am a bad mother,” she said. “But I had no other choice, I could not find a job at home.” Media reports have helped raise some donations for the family and authorities have been alerted to their basic needs.

But to Loc, all that matters is: “Tonight, I have my mom with me.”

The man who can’t be moved from his jungle school


A photo taken in November 2017 shows Bui Van Thuan teaching his students in their jungle school in Dien Bien Province. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

Bui Van Thuan, 37, has spent a decade crossing rough streams and learning the H’Mong tribal language to keep his students in class. Pa My Primary School in Dien Bien Province in Vietnam’s northern highlands has 11 campuses, and Thuan is single-handedly in charge of the most remote one, a dirt-floor classroom 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) from a commune center with three students now in first and second grades.

Orphan born with heart disease raised by 20 wonderful doctors

Pham Thuy Nhi, 4, was born with dextrocardia, which means her heart is on the wrong side. Her mother left her soon after birth, but a group of 20 doctors at Dong Hoi Vietnam-Cuba Hospital in Quang Binh Province have been caring for her between shifts ever since.

She now calls the hospital home and the staff her parents.

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