The Tam Thanh Border Guard Office, located in Tam Ky City, Quang Nam, is located just next to the small fishing village of Ha Thanh – a place where poverty forces young children to leave school so they can help their parents earn a living.
After hearing of the hardships faced by children in the village, the nearby border guard office knew that something had to be done to help ensure that local children were given the opportunity for a proper education and a stable future, according to Senior Lieutenant Colonel Tran Minh Tan, the unit’s political commissar.
Well aware of the difficult road that lay ahead of them, the board guards began saving money in 2014 in order to adopt and afford education for four young secondary school boys.
One of the adopted boys was forced to quit his studies and help support his family while his father was in the hospital and his mother eked by on a meager living as a fish porter, Tan said,. Another boy they adopted was an orphan while a third boy’s parents had divorced.
The officers went to each of boy’s families to urge them to let the children live and study at the border guard office.
“We coordinated with local schools to provide the children with reduced tuition fees, while the offices often take turns helping them with their homework after class,” the political commissar stated.
He added that the border guards often pool money from their own earnings in order to offer assistance to other children with difficult living conditions in the locality.
Three of the boys have finished secondary school and have gone back to live with their parents, as it is considerably more convenient for their high school education.
Nguyen Chau Phi, 15, however, insisted on living with his ‘foster fathers’ till he finishes high school.
“I was about to quit school and find a job before being approached and encouraged by the border guards to come and live with them,” Phi said, adding that “life here is good.”
“My wife and I cannot afford sufficient education for Phi and he is so lucky to be adopted by the officers. We’re unbelievably grateful,” Nguyen Van Chau, Phi’s father, stated.
In 2016, the officers kick started a program that focuses on providing monthly financial support for two school girls, Bui Thi Than Tam, a second-grader, and Tran Thu Loc, a seventh grader.
Tam’s father is being hospitalized for a serious illness and her older brother suffers from mental disease.
Meanwhile, Loc and her two siblings have been living with their sick mother since their parents’ divorce.