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Love in a hopeless place: an ethnic minority woman finds love in the middle of a pandemic

Love in a hopeless place: an ethnic minority woman finds love in the middle of a pandemic

Saturday, December 31, 2022, 09:30 GMT+7
Love in a hopeless place: an ethnic minority woman finds love in the middle of a pandemic
Truong Van Noc and his wife H’Reo prepare meals for kids in the shelter. PHOTO: B.D. / Tuoi Tre

H’Reo, an ethnic Ja Rai, and her now-husband Truong Van Noc recently held their wedding ceremony at the orphanage where H’Reo grew up.

The owner of the orphanage, Dinh Minh Nhat, saved H’Reo from being buried alive as a newborn.

Now, the couple live happily at the shelter, caring for more than 100 orphans who call it home. 

Almost buried alive

H’Reo is a 22-year-old ethnic Ja Rai living in Gia Lai Province with her husband, Truong Van Noc.  While the couple now has a long, happy life to look forward to, their future wasn’t always so bright. 

H’Reo’s mother died during childbirth in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.

According to Ja Rai tradition, the baby of a mother who dies during delivery is meant to be buried alive with their mother.  

Shortly before the burial was scheduled to take place, Dinh Minh Nhat, the owner of a shelter in central Vietnam’s Gia Lai Province, was notified and rushed to Ba Ria-Vung Tau to try and save the baby.

When Nhat arrived, he saw H’Reo’s sister holding her.

“I brought [H’Reo and her sister] to my house, gave the baby first aid, and promised to take care of them both,” Nhat shared.

Raising H’Reo wasn’t easy for Nhat.

The newborn was malnourished and needed breast milk, which Nhat had to get from other mothers.  

Eventually, however, H’Reo grew into a healthy toddler and Nhat was able to send her to school. Her sister then returned home in Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

Now, at 22 years old, H’Reo does all she can to help Nhat at his shelter.

It is her way of thanking him for saving her life, loving her, and being her adoptive father and role model.

A COVID-19 love story

After H’Reo graduated from high school, Nhat sent her to a good vocational school.

Even though she eventually graduated and found a good job, she eventually found herself back at the shelter.

This time, however, it wasn’t because she needed Nhat to care for her. Instead, she found their roles reversed due to Nhat being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

One day, a woman from Ba Ria-Vung Tau visited the shelter to donate gifts for the children there.  

When she met H’Reo, she liked her so much that she immediately asked Nhat if H’Reo would marry her youngest son.

Nhat explained that only H’Reo could decide her future.

Several months later, the woman once again returned to the shelter, this time with her youngest son, 30-year-old Truong Van Noc, in tow. 

Noc didn’t realize that the trip was essentially a blind date. Not only that, but it was right around the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Both Noc and his mother became trapped at the shelter in Gia Lai due to provincial border closings.  

During that time, Noc and H’Reo became close and fell in love.

They married in 2020 with a simple, happy wedding at the shelter, surrounded by the children who were staying there.

Truong Van Noc and H’Reo currently live in Gia Lai Province where they care for the orphans in the shelter were H’Reo was raised.

Noc has fully assimilated to the Ja Rai ethnic customs of the region, explaining that “I am now a son-in-law of the Ja Rai.”

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Vuong Anh - Thai Ba Dung / Tuoi Tre News


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