People who come to the aid of others or society are becoming rare. Rarer still are people who come to the rescue of orphans or street children, especially in these times when such humanitarian projects are undertaken by non-governmental organisations.
But then Kpuih Yom, a resident of the Ia Duk Commune’s Ghe Village in the southern An Giang Province, is a rare individual and citizen, who finds meaning in life by adopting destitute and abandoned children.
Yom, a patriarch of the village near the Viet Nam-Cambodia border, has, to date, adopted 13 children, despite facing many difficulties, most of them orphans or from families too poor to bring them up.
From being a foot soldier as a 20-year-old, of the American-backed troops, Yom, who later repented and deserted the army, has come a long way, giving his all to raise orphans.
At the end of the American war, a remorseful Yom, left his home and wife and went to Pleiku to earn a living. It was here, in 1976, Yom, who didn’t have a child, met the 12-year-old orphan Then, who was to change his life for ever.
"Then’s parents had died in a bomb explosion, leaving him to fate and the streets of Pleiku," Yom said. It didn’t take him long to decide to adopt Then.
Later on a trip back home, he adopted three brothers, Dup, Dang and Binh, who were abandoned in a forest near his village. A few years later, he adopted a new-born child belonging to the Kinh ethnic community, found in a bush on the street.
"It was hard to raise the new-born baby as it drank only milk and often got sick," Yom said. Though Yom sold many of his belongings to feed the child, the baby died after six months.
The couple, meanwhile, worked hard to bring up all these children, and went on adopting, giving a home to orphans Hme, Thui and Ju. They adopted four more, and at one point had to sell nine cows to feed their children. But despite difficulties, the couple refuses to part with their children. "I will not give them to any one. They mean everything for us," Yom said.
As the story of Yom’s family spread, many poor parents came to the couple asking them to adopt their children. Once, while adopting an unborn child from a poor Kinh couple, Yom gave them 32kg of rice, a cow and a pig, and then sent them VND60,000 every month until the child was born.
While the elder of the adopted children works in the couple’s rubber plantation, two of the younger ones are studying at district and provincial schools.
Yom, who has now become a grandfather, maintains high-standards of living, earning nearly VND100 million (US$6,000) from rubber, coffee and animal husbandry. He, of course, has no intention to stop adopting. "I will adopt orphans until my death," promises Yom .
Vietnamnews - (05/10/2005)