Thao’s parents divorced at a very young age where her mother started a new family shortly after. Since the divorce, Thao lived with her grandparents. However, since her grandparents are in their senior years, her aunts and uncles help raised her. Her grandmother is a farmer and does hard work to help raised eight grandchildren in a tiny house. On days when there was enough rice, they would have it for breakfast. But often there were days when rice was scarce, sweet potato or manioc would suffice.
When she was a little girl, Thao saw her friends going to school and she dreamt of joining them so much that she told her grandmother her wish to attend school. Even though family members put so much pressure on her grandmother to let her grandchildren sell lottery tickets to earn more money, her grandmother loved her grandchildren so much that she decided to save up and send Thao to school.
Shortly after, a visitor came to visit her house and enrolled Thao in the scholarship programme. Her grandmother said to Thao, “They gave you a scholarship, you should try to study, remember to try your best. I do not want any of my grandchildren being forced to sell lottery ticket on the street to earn money…”
Thao was a little girl when she was enrolled in saigonchildren scholarship programme
From that moment forward, in addition to the school fee, her family received a monthly bag of rice, and at the beginning of the year, she also received new books and a school bag. The happiest day for Thao was when Tet arrived because she had an actual new uniform which was significant to her because it wasn’t an old uniform left behind by previous students. She shared, “I cried when I received all these gifts. I remembered the first time going to class: I only had a math book, a Vietnamese book and a notebook that was made from unused pages from an old notebook. Every time the school fee was due, it was always an installment payment since my family would pay the teacher first according to how much money we had at that moment. If we were short, my grandma would save up and paid the teacher later.
With the college entrance examination approaching, Thao accidentally overheard her aunt whispering to her grandmother: “my husband is sending money for the nanny and doesn’t have extra money to help Thao go to university anymore. She’s old enough to stop studying and get married or find a job to do”. Thao said she cried for the whole day. She was sad and worried about her grandma’s old age and poor health condition while she could not help anything. Even though the scholarship from saigonchildren helped her financial burdens, she still decided to work all different kinds of jobs, from saleswoman to a waitress, to help cover her daily expense.
She became a student of Vietnam National University
Through her toughest times, she felt she became more mature. Thao always told herself that if she put in the effort, she could overcome any hardships and challenges in her life. Thao believed that she would have her family by her side and the support from the people of saigonchildren. Thao felt privileged, without the saigonchildren’s scholarship, encouragement and support from grade one, Thao would have definitely given up on her education. She knew that there were numerous children who are in worse situations so she put consistent effort and faith to overcome her challenges.
Thao confidently shared in the student meeting of saigonchildren
Eighteen months later, Thao graduated from the English department of foreign language at Vietnam National University and secured a job that was enough to provide her with the basic needs in life as well as being able to take care of her grandmother. At the moment, Thao works part-time at an English language centre every evening to earn extra income. Thao stated, “when you’re about to fall, there’s a hand helping you, that’s when you realise how lucky you are.” She is extremely proud to have the success she has today. In addition to her diligence, resilience and hard work, she believes her success could not have been possible without the support of saigonchildren.
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