VietNamNet Bridge – Carrying the younger grandchild on her back,
holding the hand of the older grandchild, the woman and her
grandchildren crossed the 2 km slope down to the highway, and then
walked for another 4 km to school. Over the past three years, Mrs. Mu in
Thanh Hoa province has taken her grandchildren to school that way.
Mrs. Mu prepares food for the lunch at school.
5 am, when the mountain was still engulfed in fog, Mrs. Pham Thi Mu, a
Muong ethnic woman, 60 years old, in Nan hamlet, Thiet Ong commune, Ba
Thuoc district, Thanh Hoa province, gets up to prepare rice then wakes
her grandchildren – Truong Cong Hieu, 9 and Truong Cong Huy, 6, up to
dress and go to school.
Every morning, Mrs. Mu and her grandsons
climb uphill and walk to the Thiet Ong 1 Primary School. Walking for a
stretch of road, she stops to rest and then continues the trip, being
afraid that her grandchildren will go to school late.
leading Hieu to his class, she takes Huy to his classroom. The boy walks
into class but still looks back at his grandmother. Seeing her standing
in the hall, near the classroom, Huy is assured to sit down. Just not
seeing his grandmother, he will cry and refuse to learn.
On the way to school.
years ago, the boys’ father died in a traffic accident. Their mother
went away and has never returned. At that time Huy was only 7 months old
while Hieu was just two.
Mrs. Mu had to carry her grandson
around the village to ask for milk from other mothers. When the milk was
not enough, she had to mix rice water with sugar to feed the baby. The
children grew up together and they have to go to school together.
early morning, Mr. Truong Cong Day, the grandfather of Huy and Hieu,
gets up to take his buffalo up to the mountain and catches frogs at
night to support the family. Mrs. Mu is responsible to take the kids to
The journey to find the letters of these children is not
simply because to go to school, the old woman and her grandchildren have
to pass jagged slopes. Nan village is located halfway up to the
mountain. To go down to the highway, they have to pass a long, jagged
slope of 2 km.
She waits for her grandchildren during school time.
at the top of the slope, one can see the entire winding Ma River. So
adults are afraid of the Nan slope, let alone the kids who have never
once stepped out of their village. But the 60-year-old woman everyday
carries her grandchild on her back to school.
She says that if
they have a bicycle, children in her village never dare to ride to
school because of the fear of the height of the slope.
days, Mrs. Mu has to feel her muddy, slippery road by barefoot. The
little grandchild on her back firmly clutches his grandmother, does not
dare to breathe. On these days, the grandmother and her grandchildren
are often muddy, almost wet when they arrive at the school.
she is sick, she brings her two grandkids to the foot of the slope,
asks someone to take them to the school, then returns home to cook for
In the winter, with thick fog, some days she has to
burn a torch and they leaves home from 4am. When they arrive at the
school, it is not open yet. The old woman holds the kids in her arms,
let’s them sleep a little more before class.
Having lunch at school.
Mu says: “We have gone to school together for 3 years. Every morning I
get up early to take the children to school, then wait for them to
finish to take them home. If they study the whole day, we shall carry
rice and sesame to eat.”
Hieu and Huy are both good kids. They
can help their grandmother cook. They do homework or play together when
they have free time.
Despite difficulties, Mrs. Mu has never
intended to keep the kids home. She says if the Nan slope was longer and
more slopping, she would have still taken her grandchildren to school.
“Only with education, they can step out of Nan village,” says Ms. Mu.
Cao Trung Thuc, a village official, says that Mrs. Mu’s family is a
poor family. Every month, the two kids receive social welfare for
orphans, totaling VND360,000 ($13) but the amount is not enough to cover
the family’s expenses. The family’s main source of income comes from
farming and Mr. Day’s sales of frogs. They have to take care of an
80-year-old, paralyzed woman.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Trang, vice
principal of the Thiet Ong 1 Primary School, says that Hieu and Huy are
examples of overcoming difficulties in study. They do not have to pay
any kind of school fees. At the beginning of the new school year, the
school also gave them books and new clothes. The school also allows Mrs.
Mum to enter the school to wait for her grand children.