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Vietnamese student selflessly returns $2,100 to rightful owner

Saturday, December 29, 2018, 10:08 GMT+7
Vietnamese student selflessly returns $2,100 to rightful owner
Phan Thi Nga embraces Hieu at his house in Quang Nam, central Vietnam, on December 20, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre

If attendance at a Vietnamese wedding is enough to ensure a nice buzz for even the most tolerant drinker, imagine what’s possible after attending eight weddings in a single day.

If you’re not sure, just ask Phan Thi Nga – a resident of Quang Nam province in central Vietnam who found out the hard way that doing businesses after a full day of weddings probably isn’t the best idea. 

On the night of December 15, after celebrating eight different weddings, Nga met with an associate to collect VND50 million (US$2,152) for a business transaction.  Unsurprisingly, the money never made it home.

“I was so drunk I couldn’t even remember how I got home, let alone where I left the money,” Nga said.

As stumbled away from her business associate, local student Nguyen Tan Hieu, a local student from an impoverished family, was making his way to a watch party for Vietnam’s match against Malaysia in the AFF 2018 Championship. 

He saw Nga drop the money, and rushed to alert her, but the crowds of people celebrating Vietnam’s success on the football pitch made it too difficult to get her attention. 

Unsure what to do, he picked up on the money. 

Meanwhile, Nga had finally made it home and realized that she no longer had the cash. 

“I immediately tried to retrace my footsteps and found Hieu holding the cash.  He was so nervous I actually laughed,” Nga said.

Hieu returned the money, relieved to have been able to do the right thing.

“I was so drunk that all I could do was take back the money and promise Hieu that one day I would find him and return his kindness.”

Hieu’s mother wasn’t shy about sharing the pride she has in her son for his good deed.

“I am delighted by my son’s action,” she shared. 

For Nga, Hieu’s act of selflessness was a touching reminder kindness can be found in the most unlikely of circumstances. 

“Your noble act rose above any needy desires.” Nga explained.

Nguyen Tan Hieu sits in the study corner of his humble house in Quang Nam, central Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Nguyen Tan Hieu sits in the study corner of his humble house in Quang Nam, central Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Yet starkly impecunious

Pham Tan Sau, the headmaster of Hieu’s high school praised him for his selfless act.

“I’m glad he spoke up and found the owner of the money.  No one would have ever found out if he kept it, but what truly matters is that he was willing to do the right thing right away,” Sau commended his student.

Hieu’s father is both mute and deaf. He’s also spent the last three years in bed due to kidney failure. 

Hieu’s younger brother, also mute and deaf, lives in the neighboring city of Da Nang at Village of Hope – a home where disabled children are provided with a formal education that caters to their specific needs.

The bills from her husband’s illness and cost-of-living for her sons have given Hieu’s mother, Than Thi Nga, a tough time over the past few years.

Before his kidney failure, Hieu’s father also contributed to the family income by picking weeds and farming.

The family’s house is a small dilapidated, small cottage.  A pile of bricks has been sitting out front for years, but the family hasn’t been able to afford the materials needed to use them to renovate the house. There is no door and no furniture.

“This year’s harvest,” Than Thi Nga said, “yielded only ten sacks of rice, all of which we quickly sold in order to take care of my husband’s hospital bills.”

Now, with only his mother providing the family’s small income, Hieu is still encouraged to continue with his education.

“Poverty, in my opinion, can never oppress morals and the power of education. I am proud of Hieu for his deed, and will continue to take pride in him, just as always have,” Than Thi Nga said.

Hieu to be properly commended

Nguyen Bac Dau, representative of the board of parents at Hieu’s high school, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspapers that Hieu would be commended for returning the money to its rightful owner.

Hieu is known throughout his school as an academic all-star.  He’s earned the title of ‘good student’ for the past two years and has no instances of misbehavior noted in his record.

This semester, his GPA has risen to and he is now eligible for the school’s gifted class.

The Youth Union of Quang Nam has also heard of Hieu’s exploits and has assured the community that his actions will be rewarded shared as an example of good morals in action.

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Duy Khoi / Tuoi Tre News Contributor

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