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Devastated by mom’s death, Vietnamese girl bites bullet to take national exam

Wednesday, June 26, 2019, 16:54 GMT+7
Devastated by mom’s death, Vietnamese girl bites bullet to take national exam
Nguyen Thuy Linh feeds her fourth-month-old brother on June 25, 2019. Photo: Ha Dong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Thuy Linh started sitting for Vietnam’s national high school exam this week with too much weight on her shoulders - the overwhelming grief from her mother’s death and the motherhood she has to take over from the deceased.

But the 18-year-old girl, hailing from the north-central province of Thanh Hoa, said taking, and ultimately passing, this exam is the only opportunity for her to escape poverty.

Students in Vietnam on Tuesday started sitting for the all-important national high school exam, the results of which are used to determine if a student qualifies for high school graduation and as an admission test for colleges and universities.

The exam runs from June 25 to 27 this year.

Linh had been painstakingly preparing for the four-day exam like any of her peers, when her mother, 41-year-old Trinh Thi Khuyen, was struck to death by a lightning bolt earlier this month.

The incident took place when the mother and Linh were on their way home after a hard day working in the paddy field on June 3.

Khuyen was taken to the hospital for emergency care, but she passed away on June 5.

Following her monther's sudden death, Linh took over the role of a mom to her younger siblings - three sisters and a four-month-old brother.

The young girl also has to take care of her grandmother and father, and the seven-member family now live in a shabby house where it is always hot as fire.

Nguyen Thuy Linh lights incense sticks on her mother’s altar before leaving for the Math test of the national high school exam on June 25, 2019. Photo: Ha Dong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Thuy Linh lights joss sticks on her mother’s altar before leaving for the math test of the national high school exam on June 25, 2019. Photo: Ha Dong / Tuoi Tre

As the mother earned half of the family's income, life became harder for them after her death.

The father, Nguyen Van Tuan, 46, had to quit his job as a truck driver in Hanoi to go back to his hometown and take care of the farming work previously done by his wife, while Linh handles all housework in the family now.

Even if she passes the national high school exam and is admitted to college, her higher education dream could be shattered as her father is unlikely to be able to pay for it.

Still, Linh decided to take the exam, even though it would mean she had to spend the precious break time after the first test in the morning preparing lunch for the whole family and feeding her little brother, before rushing back to the exam venue to do the afternoon test.

She has applied for two different majors, Chinese language and tourism, at the Hue University of Sciences in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, she told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Tuesday, just before entering her math test in the afternoon.

The young girl said her mother had always encouraged her to pursue education no matter how hard life could be for the family.

Now that her mom is not around, Linh said she got the encouragement and support from her grandmother, father, and relatives.

Linh also shared that if she passes the exam this year and gets admitted, she may ask to have a gap year to work as a blue-collar worker to save money for her university expenses.

“I will never give up on my dream of working in the tourist industry for a stable income to be able to support my family,” she said.

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