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​Meet the Vietnamese farmer saving lives with secondhand car

Sunday, June 24, 2018, 07:16 GMT+7

Tran Thanh Khiet, a farmer in the north-central province of Quang Binh, often spends entire days away from his field, too busying ferrying his district’s needy citizens to the hospital to worry about making a living for himself.

Over the past six months, Khiet has become an integral part of the Quang Trach District community, earning a reputation for selflessness by offering a free “ambulance” service to those in need.

Don’t worry.  I drive for free.

In a past life, Khiet worked as a long-haul driver, traveling the country’s busy highways and, unfortunately, witnessing dozens of fatal accidents.  Accidents that might not have resulted in loss of life had emergency services made it to the scene on time.

After his company went bankrupt, Khiet turned to farming in order to make ends meet. But a change in lifestyle didn’t cut down on the amount of suffering he witnessed. 

In Quang Trach District, the nearest hospital is 20km away, making timely rescue equally as difficult as what he’d witnessed as a driver.

When Khiet and his wife, a nurse, heard about a secondhand car being put up for sale, they knew it was time to make change happen in their small community.

The couple scraped together VND100 million (US$4,415), their entire life savings, to purchase the vehicle and immediately posted a “Charitable Ambulance Service” sign on its windshield.

Word spread quickly about the service. Khiet visited several clinics in the area to advertise and even created a Facebook page solely for keeping people updated on his project.

In every post, he always stresses: “Don’t worry. I drive for free” – an offer neighbors like Tran Duc Hoa are quick to take him up on.

The other night, Hoa’s son was driving home drunk after a party and was involved in a traffic accident several kilometers from home. 

Khiet jumped in his ‘ambulance’ the moment he heard the news and safely transported the victim to the provincial hospital.

“I might not have survived if it hadn’t been for Khiet,” the son recalled.

“A traffic accident in such a remote area often spells death.”

Khiet rushes patient to the provincial hospital. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Khiet rushes patient to the provincial hospital. Photo: Tuoi Tre

On another occasion, Khiet transported a destitute woman to the provincial hospital to for a thorough medical check-up. 

He then decided to wait for her until late that evening to drive her home, knowing full well she didn’t have enough money to get her own ride.

A heart of gold

Nguyen Xuan Dat, chairman of the People’s Committee of Quang Trach District, is well aware of Khiet’s service.

Like many, he was shocked when he heard a poor farmer was putting so much time, effort, and money into helping others.

“He doesn’t let his worn-out car get in the way of his passion for charity,” Dat said, adding that “Locals living in the rough terrain of Quang Trach view Khiet as a much needed miracle.”

Due to a slumping economy in his area, Khiet often turns to side jobs in order to make ends meet.

That, combined with his wife’s modest fixed income is just enough to support his four children. Yet still he refuses to accept any gift of money from those he’s helped.

“I know full well the people here are all poor. We are glad to be of assistance. That is enough”, Khiet happily shared.

Khiet’s selflessness often causes him to miss out on entire days of work. But to him, it’s worth it.

“Many are baffled when they hear what I do”, Khiet shared.

“They don’t get why I am willing to go out of my way for others when I’m not well-off myself. 

“I tell them that I simply believe that if you help others, someday, you will be repaid with kindness – karma and stuff, you know?”

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Duy Khoi / Tuoi Tre News Contributor

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