Thursday, August 20, 2020

Van Anh's story ~ Translated by CEF's Kim Chi

 My name is Van Anh and I grew up in Thai Binh province in the North of Vietnam. There are five people in my family and I am the youngest child. My father used to be an experienced builder, working on building sites. My mother has been working on farms, growing rice and vegetables. When I was 10 years old, my brother had to go to Ho Chi Minh city, to work to totally support himself. My parents had to take care of me and my sister as well as trying to keep us in school. My sister went to college and studied to become a teacher. She wanted to live near my family, so she had to work with yearly contracts. She is teaching locally on too low an income. My parents are worried about her life a lot because she also needs to take care of her own family. Although my parents were not so well, they wanted me to go to university to have a better life and break the poverty cycle of our family. 

My father has suffered from a herniated disc and spinal degeneration which has affected his ability to do construction work a lot. He had to stop working whenever he felt a lot of pain. Due to his poor health, my mother became the main person who took care of the whole family. Although we struggle with our financial burden, my family is very happy because we care for each other.

After I finished high school, my parents decided to send me to university although they were old and couldn’t make much money. They wanted me to have a better life because my brother and my sister didn’t go to university and that has made their lives hard. I also wanted to have a higher education because I wanted to broaden my knowledge, develop in a good study environment and have a variety of relationships, to be a more versatile person and be able to have a good job. After the final high school exams, I sent my application to Thai Binh Medical University, to study to become a GP. But, my scores were not enough for me to be accepted into this university. It took me a lot of time to consider my second choice and I applied to study at Hanoi Medical University and pursue studies in nutrition. I researched a lot of information about this career because it was a new one in Vietnam at the time and at this university. Luckily, I was still keen about this subject after having all the information on it and decided to pursue these studies. During my four years of university, I have never regretted my decision. I love this career as I can help many patients by giving them nutritional advice and recipes. Although my parents struggled to support my living costs while I was at university in Hanoi, they respected my decision and encouraged me to take this course. 

Last year, my father had a serious health problem because he hadn’t been checking up on his health regularly. He did nothing about it until he couldn’t put up with the pain any longer, then he went to the hospital and was diagnosed with stage three rectal cancer. My family was shocked. This was a huge financial burden for my family because the treatment takes a long time and costs a lot. He had surgery but also has had to have chemotherapy treatment. My mother is the main person who farms now, growing rice and ‘au’ to sell and covers the daily expenses of the family. My father stopped working a year ago, so the finances of my family is difficult currently.

CEF started helping me when I was in grade 6. I received sponsorship each term to pay my school fees and my education expenses. I was so happy because sponsorship helped to reduce a lot of the financial burden of my parents, and that helped my parents have fewer worries. I still remember the gift, which was a box of color pencils, I got from Ms Linda. It was an expensive gift for me at that time. The sponsorship and cares I received from Ms Linda and CEF during my secondary schooling, my three years of high school, and four-year university course were all a huge motivation for me to overcome any difficulties I had and attain achievements in my life. 

Presently, I have graduated from university, majoring in nutrition and have enough elementary skills that are needed to get a job quickly. I applied for a job straight after graduation and recently got a reply from a private nutrition clinic to work for them. I am thrilled because they highly appreciated my experience from my part-time work and that I do voluntary work.  I am delighted as I can work in my field of studies. My plan at the moment is in having a job I can afford to look after myself and help my parents too. I will work and save for travelling and helping disadvantaged people to make my life happy and meaningful. I believe that if I am optimistic and try my best, I can overcome many challenges.  

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