Seven years ago, more than 30 post-rehab people from Ho Chi Minh City-based Binh Trieu Drug Rehabilitation Center were recruited by Dai Viet Garment Company but only four are still working there including Nguyen Duc Chinh and Tat Thuy Huong.
With Chinh, 31, and Huong, 33 both looking younger than they really are, it is hard to believe they are former drug addicts at first sight. “It was a very terrible time so we want to remove it from our memory,” they recalled the past days as drug users.
Chinh first tried to use drugs when he was 17 because his friends did. That time, he led a life of a wanderer and only returned home to ask his mother for money to buy drugs. He also stole, lied and cheated like most heroin addicts.
Unlike Chinh, Huong started to use drugs just because her boyfriend was an addict. “I vomited a lot at the first time using heroin. After that, I needed it so badly,” Huong said, adding: “I lost all my savings to drugs for many years. I even sold everything to get money. That was really terrible.”
Chinh told Tuoi Tre that when he was arrested and sent to Binh Trieu rehab center he thought his family would abandon him. “I cried a lot. That was a desperate time,” he remembered.
During his first 20 days at Binh Trieu, Chinh waited in vain for news from family but got disappointed every time. However, one day, Chinh was told his mother came to visit him. Upon seeing her, we hugged each other and cried”, he added.
Chinh said his family had not known about his arrest before. Since the last day Chinh came home was long ago, the worried mother tried to search for him everywhere and finally met him at Binh Trieu. “If I had not been a drug abuser, my mother would not have suffered a stroke and my father would not have died”, he cried.
Meanwhile, Huong said that she was determined to quit heroin because she did not want her parents to suffer further: “When I was at the rehab center, my mom was a street vendor of fruits and my dad was too old to make money. They spent VND200,000 (US$10) every time they visited me. I know they worked very hard to make such amount of money so I had to give up drugs”. Therefore, for Huong and Chinh, it’s true that their parents gave them a new life.
Life full of hopes
As a participant of the USAID HIV Workplace Project, Dai Viet company - where the two are working - provides post-rehab people or those living with HIV with great supports and benefits, aiming at giving them a chance to return to normal life.
“I found my first job at Dai Viet and have been living in dignity thanks to their supports. My co-workers treat me well, believe in me and do not discriminate against me. When my mother was sick, they even donated money to help. The workplace environment is very comfortable,” Chinh said. Besides being a skillful worker, Chinh actively participates in most volunteer activities at the company.
Huong is described by Diep Thi Hang Nga, deputy director of Dai Viet, as a very diligent and hard-working worker. “I can make approximately 1,000 products each day while others are only able to do some hundreds. Sometimes I could do 1,200 or 1,300,” Huong proudly told Tuoi Tre.
Huong said she is lucky to work at Dai Viet because she has opportunities to attend useful training workshops about HIV prevention and that her colleagues treat her with no discrimination and the company offers her a small monthly allowance to pay for the transportation fees.
Talking about the future, Chinh hoped to be able to hire a nice house to stay together with his mother and work harder to earn more money to start a family while Huong expected to find a man who can help her take care of her 4-year-old daughter and drive the little girl to school.