My name is Hoang Thi Thanh Huong. I was born in the outskirt of Ha Noi, on the 26th of November, 1982. When I was in primary grades, my father moved to Nha Trang city for his job and took the whole family with him. I moved to Da Nang city for my university dream and have lived here until now.
I got married in 2006 and gave birth to my daughter in 2009. My husband was born in a poor large family. He didn’t have a university opportunity like I did. My husband started working when he was 13 years old and had to quit school when he was 17 to work full-time to support his family when his father was diagnosed with stomach cancer. My husband is a shoe-maker and he is a very nice man.
I have one older brother and a younger sister. My parents were both born in farming families but they didn’t choose to become farmers.
Like any young Vietnamese man, after finishing high school, my father was asked to do army-serving for two years. Then the army corps he was serving decided to recruit him under their strategy of drawing talents. My father was supported to have higher education then became an army official.
My father retired 3 years ago with a colonel chevron. With his knowledge of business and a BA in Law, after retiring, my father has opened a business to continue his working-life. Now family of my brother, sister and some families of my kin are working for him. My mother stood behind my father’s success over the years.
With the thought of valuing men above women of her family, my mother was asked to quit school when she finished middle grade. However, instead of working on the farm, my mother chose to become a worker in a building company in town. Later, when my father had some success in his career, my mother quit her job and stayed home until now to take care of her husband and children, and now her grandchildren.
In my family, I am the most different individual. I was not born with critical thinking or an ambition of power or any gift in business. I consider things in a simple way and act instinctively. Especially, I love children.
When I was little, I dreamt of becoming a teacher. I used to play teacher-game with my sister and my neighbor friends. I always scrambled for being their teacher. My mother saw me singing and dancing every day. She said “Maybe you should register to a university of pre-school so you can teach singing and dancing to little kids”.
When I came to high school, my English was my best subject. I liked speaking English. This made me change my dream. I wanted to become an English teacher and decided to work on it.
During 4 years at university, My English got much better. A month before graduating, I was offered a job at the Foreign Affairs Division of my school by the school president. I was very confused. Should I become a teacher or an office staff? I was thinking about that question during the period of my probation before graduation. Finally, the time of probation with an NGO has given me the answer I was looking for.
During two weeks in Hoi An town (30 km from Da Nang), every day I helped foreign volunteers from different areas in the world to communicate and teach more than 30 children of different ages in an orphanage named Cahors located at the edge of the town. What impressed and haunted me was the life stories all of the children there. None of them had father and some even lost their mother too. I experienced hours to sit with some new children and comfort them when they were missing their family. I saw their need. I found they not only needed food but also education and love. And that was what a normal teacher couldn’t do.
I was thinking about what I really wanted to do that time, and always the “social work” came first in my mind which made me change my plan and myself forever. I have been working for GIBTK since the middle of 2010 and found it has been an amazing experience. I oversee the wheelchair program.
Firstly, I thought it was a matter of fortuity but I gradually found it was more like a plan of God for me. It has brought a life-long impact to me to realize I have a lot to learn; and to see that even a small thing I can do really does create a difference to the vulnerable lives that my team and I are working to help. To me, watching the happy tears and smiles on the faces of the children and adults we are helping is the biggest happiness that motivates me to dedicate my best to the career I have chosen.