Vu Lan is known as Vietnamese parents day. This festival is the second largest annual traditional festival of Vietnam after the lunar New Year. It falls on the 15th day of the seventh month on Lunar Calendar. It is the day when people express gratitude and appreciation towards their parents, alive or dead. We would like to take the time on this special day to tell you a story about one of our students’ mother who demonstrates amazing strength in order to provide opportunities for her children.
Như is one of many students that have received the scholarship from saigonchildren. She got into our program when she was in grade 9. At the present she is third year student in the prestigious HCMC Medical school. Life has never been easy on this girl and her family. They are one of the poorest families in Thong Nhat, Dong Nai.
Như and her siblings grew up in a family where her mom was the main financial support for the whole family. Her dad passed away in 2004 when she was only 7 years old. The responsibility of raising four kids was passed on to her mom. Losing her life soulmate and the major income from the late husband, life felt nearly at the end of the tunnel for this widow. At some point, she wanted to give up. But she knew giving up was not her option. She thought about her four young beautiful children and their future. They had suffered enough from the death of their father. She swept her tears away, pulled herself together to get over her own grief and became strong for the sake of her children. She has been working as a maid for many years. The job does not pay much, at around 3 million a month and 2 hundredd thousand per day on the weekends. She works days and nights to provide her children with food, shelter, and education.
The whole family lives in a 35 square meter house and when it rains the roof leaks. Their vegetarian diet has become their daily meal and it is not for religious reason. It was not a choice, but the only option simply because they could not afford to buy enough food.
Sending four kids to school is an enormous task especially for her situation, but she is determined to achieve that. Her eldest child wanted to share the burden and suggested that she would drop out of school to help the mother with earning money and support the family. Her mother snapped her out of that thought straight away. Growing up in poverty, she believes education is the only way out. Như and her siblings are well aware of their mother’s sacrifice and always strive to learn better. Up to now, the oldest sister has recently graduated from HCMC University of Agriculture and Forestry, her brother is senior student at Thu Duc College of Technology, and finally her younger sister in grade 12 at Dau Giay highschool. Every month the mother sends living expenses of 1.5 million to Như and 1 million to her brother. Currently the family owes more than 170 million, including the student loans for all of the children.
In the crooked house of this family, it is always filled with laughter and love of the five members. No matter how hard life could get, they always have each other and support each other. It has been that way and will always be.
Happy Vu Lan festival to everyone! No one will ever love you, or care for you, or be concerned about your welfare as your parents. Cherish them in every possible way as long as you still have the opportunity to do so.