How $45,800 windfall turns business around for Saigon scrap collector

By Quynh Tran   April 22, 2017 | 08:01 pm PT
Now she buys scrap from wandering collectors, hoping to offer these former colleagues a more stable income.

After finding more than five million Japanese yen ($45,800) in a discharged speaker two years ago, Huynh Thi Anh Hong no longer has to wander the streets in search of scrap. She now works as a mid-level dealer buying scrap metal from wandering collectors and resells it to recyclers.


Hong, 39, from the central province of Quang Ngai, bought the speaker from a customer in late 2013 for less than $5. When she broke it open to recycle the metal in March 2014, bank notes flew out and curious strangers lined up outside her door, prompting her to hand it over to the police. They gave it back to her in June 2015 after failing to find the owner.


After giving some of the money to charity and buying a motorbike, Hong opened her facility at a rented house in Tan Binh District last October, ending her years of roaming the streets. “I’ve seen other sisters struggling as other dealers pay them very low prices. I can pay them more,” she said.


Business was difficult at first because she was bad at reading, writing and calculations, Hong said. Her 18-year-old daughter had to tutor her every night. “My writing is better now, and can use a calculator.” She has also learned to use the internet to chat with her business partners online.


Hong prepares dinner. She can now afford to bring both her children over instead of leaving them back home with their grandparents. Her daughter has dropped out of school and is studying to be a hairdresser while her younger son is in secondary school.


She has rented a house for 10 scrap vendors to stay, charging them half of the rent. Her former colleagues  often join her for dinner.


“I don't think I am going to get that lucky again, so I’m just going to work hard to raise my children well and support my colleagues.”

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