The man 30 years ‘sow the word’ in the lagoon

THUA THIEN – HUE – With a dream to help children who are not illiterate spend their whole life on the river with their parents, over the past 30 years, Mr. Tran Van Hoa has opened a class to eliminate blindness for hundreds of children.

At 8:00 in the morning, Mr. Hoa put on an old shirt, adjusted it to be neat, then kicked off the old motorbike, turned on the gas, and crossed the jagged road to class. Called “class” but it was just a family yard 3 km from the house that this 63-year-old man rented out, lined up a few sets of tables and chairs and a chalkboard. This class is the place to eradicate illiteracy for 16 elderly people in Phu An commune, Phu Vang district opened by “teacher Hoa”.

Mr. Hoa was in front of the classroom in a local resident's rented yard.  Photo: Diep Phan.
Mr. Hoa in the courtyard has been hired as a literacy class for 16 elderly people. Photo: Diep Phan.

More than 30 years ago, people in the Dam Sam area of ​​Phu An commune, most of them living on boats, working as a fisherman, nowadays, few people are literate. Mr. Hoa is more fortunate because his parents have a home on the mainland. When he was a kid, he went to grade 10, then went to the army. Seeing that none of the children in the commune went to school, he opened a free literacy class in his home.

“The class is small, but I have a big dream. I hope the children in this area can be literate so that when they grow up they can learn other jobs to escape poverty. Without words, the children have only one option: to follow their father.” Mother goes out to release the nets.

The first class of “teacher Hoa” was opened one day in early 1990, after a man asked for some old furniture, writing board and textbook. Initially there were only a few children, most of them children and grandchildren in the house. After a year, many children in the village also asked to come to study, even parents in another commune heard the voice of “teacher Hoa”, also rowing boat to take their children to class.

Because it is a literacy class, Mr. Hoa only focuses on teaching Vietnamese from grade one to grade four so that the children can read and write fluently. After that, students wishing to continue studying will be introduced to their main school grades by “teacher Hoa”. Although it is a loving class, Mr. Hoa also gives tests, scores and awards for students with high scores.

Once, Mr. Hoa led a pupil who got the best score when he returned the spell to the city to buy a new shirt as promised. Seeing the boy trying on a brand-new shirt but underneath it was his old pants, the man felt uneasy. So he pressed his stomach, took out the remaining money in his pocket to buy more pants for all the sets. “The clothes are light purple, I still remember now. The boy later went to the South to do business, one year he returned to his hometown, he brought me a beautiful warm shirt and very rich”, Mr. Hoa said emotionally.

On the day of opening the class to eliminate the blindness with “big dreams”, perhaps Mr. Hoa did not dare to think of his students going to university. His pupil Tran Van Muong, who stepped out of that loving class, became a bachelor in biotechnology, Da Nang Polytechnic University. “My younger sister also attended teacher Hoa’s class when she was a child, and later passed the Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry”, said Mr. Tran Van Muong, 33 years old.

Ten years later, when generations of students grew up from “the classroom in the corner of Mr. Hoa’s house”, an American NGO sponsored the construction of a solid 30-square-meter classroom next to the house, becoming a “school. “for generations of children in the region.

Because of the housework, the class rarely has 16 students.  Photo: Diep Phan.
Because of the housework, the class rarely has 16 students. Photo: Diep Phan.

In 2006, when he turned 48 years old, “teacher Hoa” surprised the students by registering a supplementary high school class. During the next three years, the familiar schedule of the 5-child man was the morning to teach the children, in the afternoon to take care of the shrimp pond and to study lessons in time to go to the evening class.

At that time, the path through the field from his house to the main road had not been concreted. In the rainy season, Mr. Hoa’s school baggage, besides books, also has a small bamboo stick to wip the mud on the motorbike’s wheel. In the flood season, in the afternoons the water rises, his wife takes the boat to take her husband to the main road, then watches at 9:00 pm, rowing the boat to meet her husband. After obtaining the 12th grade supplementary degree, Mr. Hoa took 3 more months of pedagogical profession class to improve his teaching skills. He wanted to take the entrance exam to the elementary college of pedagogy, but reckoned, if he went to school, he could not maintain the literacy class during the day, so he abandoned the idea. “I do not take the degree. I go to school to encourage and set an example for the children”, Mr. Hoa said.

For the past 10 years, many parents in this region have focused more on investing in their children in school. Mr. Hoa only accepted to teach a few children with extremely difficult circumstances. However, after a massive storm late last year, the house and classroom were badly damaged. To repair houses and classrooms, he temporarily gave the students a break.

However, the literacy elimination class for 16 older students is still maintained. Most of the students are over 40 years old, working with all kinds of jobs from net-farming, farming, and business, so attendance is not regular, meals are not enough, meals are busy with housework and take leave. “In winter, it was very cold, because there were only two sisters in the class, so I called Uncle Hoa to stop coming, and she said: ‘You have the right to take a break, but I accepted the teaching, even though there is one person in the class teaching, “said Ms. Huynh Thi Bay, a practitioner who became a grandmother.

Students in the class write off their literacy on the board to write their names.  Photo: Diep Phan.
An elderly practitioner in the literacy class wrote his name on the board. Photo: Diep Phan.

Ms. Nguyen Anh Tam, 27 years old, from the Codes of Social Work and Community Development Center (Hue) recalls a memory: “On November 20, 2015, my group brought flower baskets to visit Mr. Hoa. When he heard we share about the fact that he wanted to gratefully sow letters for the children here, he took a flower basket, placed it on the altar of his parents and cried and said: Mom, I did not expect one day to be considered as a teacher. Parents help me to have good health, I will do this until I have no health left “.

Witnessing a man nearly 60 years old crying because he was congratulated for the first time on Teacher’s Day, everyone around them shed tears. Follow vnexpress