What do you think about a dot in the middle of a white page?
Without any hesitation, some people might say “It is just a
black dot!” or “simply nothing”. But for Manh, “No matter how ugly that black
dot is, it is the starting point to continue drawing the picture of your life.”
Manh father passed away, leaving his poor mother and 2 young
kids behind. With the death of his father, he lost a coach who could guide him
on his path. His life turned to a gloomy page. He gave up school to play
electronic games all day long. He got involved in robbery and became a thief.
On the day of being taken to the reform school, he realized that he was paying
an expensive price for his lifestyle. That price could even be his own life. He
recalls: “The reform school is another world. It is a world of bitterness,
competition, burdens and of course, deprivation.”
Coming back to society on parole on Vietnam’s Independence
Day, Manh couldn’t help asking: “Would my family and my friends still welcome
this evil child back?”. Manh thought of his mother, who was collecting every
single penny she could by cleaning the streets from dawn to dusk, under the
rain or sunshine. His mother just wanted his brother and him to grow up and
become “good people”. His brother struggled to pay school fees. He did not even
have an old bicycle to go to his college.
Manh then decided to leave his family to attend “transition
home”, where post-reform school students were supported to reintegrate in the
community. He took some general courses and learnt some welding skills. But
life was not always kind and simple, money pushed him into a cycle of 14 hour
working days. Talking about that time, one time he cried. It was not just the
physical hardness but also the dangerous environment and humiliation which kept
on pulling him down.
One day, the manager of his “transition home” introduced him
to REACH. Looking back on the time at REACH, Manh says it made him a different
person. The facilitator’s enthusiasm, care and peer support planted the seeds
of confidence in his soul. That was also at REACH where Manh learnt the meaning
of “one black dot” in his life.
It has been more than 5 years since Manh graduated from
REACH. For the past 5 years, Manh has been moved to different levels and
position in hospitality service. Manh used to work for Pullman, Sheraton,
InterContinetal and also provide set-up services for newly established
restaurant. Now, Manh has 3 years of experience working in managerial position.
He is currently F&B manager of a Singapore restaurant in a busy street of
Manh is silently helping other people around him. “Being good alone is not enough, helping others
become good is just sufficient.” He has been organizing charity visits, calling
for support for others and guest lecturing at REACH. Spending time, effort and
sometimes even a little salary on the people of similar background, he hopes to
awaken their good parts. For someone who are still standing at their crossroad,
not knowing which way to go next, Manh has one advice: “A disadvantaged
circumstances, an ugly look or even a bad history may not and should not
prevent us from standing straight with our head held high in life”.