VietNamNet Bridge - Carrying the younger grandchild on her back, holding the hand of the older grandchild, the woman and her grandchildren crossed the 2 km slope down to the highway, and then walked for another 4 km to school. Over the past three years, Mrs. Mu in Thanh Hoa province has taken her grandchildren to school that way.
At 5 am, when the mountain was still engulfed in fog, Mrs. Pham Thi Mu, a Muong ethnic woman, 60 years old, in Nan hamlet, Thiet Ong commune, Ba Thuoc district, Thanh Hoa province, gets up to prepare rice then wakes her grandchildren – Truong Cong Hieu, 9 and Truong Cong Huy, 6, up to dress and go to school.
Every morning, Mrs. Mu and her grandsons climb uphill and walk to the Thiet Ong 1 Primary School. Walking for a stretch of road, she stops to rest and then continues the trip, being afraid that her grandchildren will go to school late.
After leading Hieu to his class, she takes Huy to his classroom. The boy walks into class but still looks back at his grandmother. Seeing her standing in the hall, near the classroom, Huy is assured to sit down. Just not seeing his grandmother, he will cry and refuse to learn.
7 years ago, the boys’ father died in a traffic accident. Their mother went away and has never returned. At that time Huy was only 7 months old while Hieu was just two.
Mrs. Mu had to carry her grandson around the village to ask for milk from other mothers. When the milk was not enough, she had to mix rice water with sugar to feed the baby. The children grew up together and they have to go to school together.
From early morning, Mr. Truong Cong Day, the grandfather of Huy and Hieu, gets up to take his buffalo up to the mountain and catches frogs at night to support the family. Mrs. Mu is responsible to take the kids to school.
The journey to find the letters of these children is not simply because to go to school, the old woman and her grandchildren have to pass jagged slopes. Nan village is located halfway up to the mountain. To go down to the highway, they have to pass a long, jagged slope of 2 km.
Standing at the top of the slope, one can see the entire winding Ma River. So adults are afraid of the Nan slope, let alone the kids who have never once stepped out of their village. But the 60-year-old woman everyday carries her grandchild on her back to school.
She says that if they have a bicycle, children in her village never dare to ride to school because of the fear of the height of the slope.
On rainy days, Mrs. Mu has to feel her muddy, slippery road by barefoot. The little grandchild on her back firmly clutches his grandmother, does not dare to breathe. On these days, the grandmother and her grandchildren are often muddy, almost wet when they arrive at the school.
When she is sick, she brings her two grandkids to the foot of the slope, asks someone to take them to the school, then returns home to cook for the children.
In the winter, with thick fog, some days she has to burn a torch and they leaves home from 4am. When they arrive at the school, it is not open yet. The old woman holds the kids in her arms, let’s them sleep a little more before class.
Ms. Mu says: "We have gone to school together for 3 years. Every morning I get up early to take the children to school, then wait for them to finish to take them home. If they study the whole day, we shall carry rice and sesame to eat."
Hieu and Huy are both good kids. They can help their grandmother cook. They do homework or play together when they have free time.
Despite difficulties, Mrs. Mu has never intended to keep the kids home. She says if the Nan slope was longer and more slopping, she would have still taken her grandchildren to school. "Only with education, they can step out of Nan village," says Ms. Mu.
Mr. Cao Trung Thuc, a village official, says that Mrs. Mu’s family is a poor family. Every month, the two kids receive social welfare for orphans, totaling VND360,000 ($13) but the amount is not enough to cover the family’s expenses. The family’s main source of income comes from farming and Mr. Day’s sales of frogs. They have to take care of an 80-year-old, paralyzed woman.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Trang, vice principal of the Thiet Ong 1 Primary School, says that Hieu and Huy are examples of overcoming difficulties in study. They do not have to pay any kind of school fees. At the beginning of the new school year, the school also gave them books and new clothes. The school also allows Mrs. Mum to enter the school to wait for her grandchildren.
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