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An elderly teacher’s endless love for poor kids
Hoang Phong
Thursday,  Sep 7, 2017,23:55 (GMT+7)

An elderly teacher’s endless love for poor kids

Hoang Phong

Huynh Van Phe has devoted to his job as a teacher in his small home in Thu Duc over the past 23 years

The 75-year-old Huynh Van Phe, a native from the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, has never served as a teacher in the country’s education system, but his devotion to the noble cause has heaped praise. Over the past 23 years since his retirement as as a blue-collar worker, the elderly man has made great efforts to make the schooling dream of many underprivileged children students in the outlying district of Thu Duc come true. His painstaking effort is simply out of the endless love for unlucky children.

Every weekday at his small home at the Village of Universities in the outlying district of Thu Duc, one will see Phe attend to the poor children, spending his time and money to equip the underprivilleged kids with basic knowledge.

After retiring from his job decades ago, Phe and his wife decided to open classes dedicated to poor children who cannot afford formal education. He never sees the job as a way to earn his daily bread as students pay only VND15,000 (US$0.6) per month, enough for him to cover only power and water bills. Instead, he has nurtured a passionate love for kids from low-income families and an unquenchable thirst for keeping alive his passion for teaching.

With just a few students in a makeshift tent in the first days, his two classes are currently home to around 60 students aged between four and nine, who are taking Math and Vietnamese-language classes. Apart from joining classes in the morning, these students have been running errand jobs from the afternoon till the evening earn a little money to help their parents. Therefore, Phe’s classes are only open from 6 a.m to 11 a.m. on weekdays. 

Most of students in his classes come from poverty-stricken families in the Mekong Delta provinces such as Vinh Long, An Giang, Tien Giang, Tra Vinh and Ben Tre. Their parents are those who found it hard to earn a living in the countryside so they headed to the city to look for a better life but just end up struggling with their daily livelihood.

Speaking to the Daily, Phe says his wife returned to her hometown in Tien Giang Province owing to health reasons over a year ago, so he has to manage these two classes all by himself. Currently, many voluntary students from surrounding universities in their spare time are willing to lend a helping hand to the 75-year-old teacher in taking care of active and mischievous students. 

Tran Thi Suong, a student at the HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities, explains that she often spends eight hours a week to come to Phe’s classes to share the burdens and difficulties with the elderly teacher who are highly enthusiastic to teach poor kids by his sincere heart.  

Despite his old age, Phe says he will be loyal to the teaching career until his very last breath to impart knowledge to disadvantaged kids with a hope to better their future through the path of education.

Tram Anh, an eight-year-old student who is living with her family in a rented room in Thu Duc District, says due to her parents’ limited financial conditions, she has been sent to Phe’s classes for over two years.

“For me, everyday going to classes and meeting the elderly teacher and my friends there is precious happiness and I dream of becoming a good teacher in the future so as to help needy kids across the country and change the fate of my family,” says Anh.

Poor kids are seen playing together during break time
Students pay attention to their homework in class
The 75-year-old teacher teaches his poor students with a tuition fee of only VND15,000 a month


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