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Nguyen Huu Manh

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 Hanoi.

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”.

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