(BGO) - With an old bicycle, a few belongings and 3,000 key holders, Nguyen Tung Lam, 21, whose hometown is Dong Phu commune of Luc Nam district, Bac Giang province, has been cycling across Vietnam to earn money by selling key holders to buy notebooks for children of deprived families in flooded areas. The Bac Giang Newspaper interviewed this young man when he came to the province.
|Nguyen Tung Lam bought notebooks for children of deprived families.|
A 3,000-km journey and the 3,000 notebooks
Hi Lam! When did you start this trans-Vietnam journey?
I set off on my journey on October 26, 2016, and have travelled for 70 days through more than 30 provinces and cities so far, about 3,000km. I began the tour in Ho Chi Minh City, went through the western, southern and central provinces and then to the north.
Why did you begin the journey in Ho Chi Minh City when your hometown is in Luc Nam district?
I was born and raised in Luc Nam but because my parents got divorced and I dropped out of school, I went to Binh Phuoc (a southern province) to do gardening with some relatives. Since I couldn’t continue my studies, I want to help disadvantaged students like me.
How did your parents and relatives react to your decision?
My mother supported me but she also worried. I saved 17 million VND (nearly 750 USD) after five years of gardening in Binh Phuoc. After deciding to cycle across the country, I bought 3,000 key holders for 15 million VND. I spent the remaining 2 million VND on food, medicine and basic supplies. I use an old bike and only made a few repairs to it.
What is your target?
With 3,000 key holders worth 5,000 VND (about 0.22 USD) each, I sell each of them for 10,000 VND (0.44 USD) to raise money to buy 3,000 notebooks for children in flooded areas. I plan to present the gifts to less privileged students in the provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Ha Tinh as the flooding there is so severe. Though I have never lived in the central region, I’m a Vietnamese person and have also experienced poverty. I want to do something meaningful.
After a tour of nearly 3,000km, have you raised enough funds to buy 3,000 notebooks?
I’m happy to say that I have bought 3,500 notebooks and they are in Nghe An (a central province) at present. With other people’s support, I’m planning to increase the number to 5,000 and present some in Nghe An as well. I will spend more time to go to Hanoi, Thai Nguyen and Tuyen Quang province – the last stop – to raise money and buy another 1,500 notebooks. After that, I will return to the central region and hand over the gifts to local children before the Lunar New Year.
A long odyssey
Nguyen Tung Lam with key holders
It is not easy to cycle from the south to the north. What was the biggest problem you encountered?
I’m not afraid of anything but the weather. While the weather is either sunny or rainy in the south, torrential rains occurred in the central region. On my way, I was soaked by heavy rains many times as there was no shelter nearby. I worried that I would become sick and have to abandon my trip.
Did you ever want to give up?
To tell you the truth, I did not, but I did feel sad and tired. When I was in Lam Dong province, I had to suspend the trip for eight hours on a pass since my bike was broken, it rained and my mobile phone lost signal. It was not until 2am when I came to the foot of the pass. Fortunately, other people set up tents for me there. The trip was unimaginably hard.
Many people followed and supported you on social networks, but some wondered did you need to “torture” yourself and experience such a dangerous tour while there are many ways to do charitable activities?
Everyone has their own opinion, I just think that in my twenties, I have able feet and a heart full of love, which is enough to realise my dream of doing charitable activities. In every corner of the country, people supported me, showing that life is meaningful and our country is beautiful.
Can you share some good experiences on your journey?
As I said, I was not alone on my journey. I received assistance from people wherever I went. When a woman in Binh Dinh province learned that I sold key holders to raise funds, she bought one key holder but paid me 500,000 VND (22 USD). Many other people bought tens of key holders, others supported me with food or water. I was very touched and will never forget the help.
“Cycling across Vietnam, selling key holders to buy notebooks for children in flooded areas” is the message carried on your bicycle. In every province and city you stopped at, you met and conveyed your inspiration to young people. Through the Bac Giang Newspaper, do you want to send any messages to youngsters in your hometown?
I just want to say that regardless of my disadvantaged background, I’m always optimistic. I hope other young people will not waste their time while being responsible for their own life. They should do charitable works if they can.
In 2017, I will continue my trans-Vietnam journey but by motorbike, and I plan to raise money to buy 10,000 notebooks. I look forward to everyone’s support.
Thank you, and I wish you good health to fulfill your plan!