“U Hoa” delivers vocational training to the disabled

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(VOVWORLD) -In a simple house on the outskirts of Hanoi, a woman in her 60s has given love and hope to 500 children with disabilities. She is Doan Thi Hoa who founded the Quỳnh Hoa Charity Vocational Training Center. For the past 17 years Hoa has given hundreds of physically disabled children a place where they can fit in.

“U Hoa” delivers vocational training to the disabled  - ảnh 1Mrs. Doan Thi Hoa (Photo: Vietnam+)

In a spacious room hung up with certificates of merit and souvenir photos, trainees are making paper pictures and animals. In an atmosphere full of enthusiasm and excitement, attentive eyes and careful hands meticulously roll and paste paper and assemble animals and detailed pictures. If you don't look carefully, it’s easy to miss that all the workers have physical defects.

29-year-old Le Trang has had a mental disability since birth. Communication is her biggest obstacle, but in compensation her hands are extremely skillful. “It’s fun to study at the center. It’s like my home where mother Hoa and other friends help me a lot. I love Mrs. Hoa very much,” Trang confided.

Like Trang, Lan Anh also suffers from mental retardation. She began studying at the center when she was 16. She was shy with strangers and spoke very little.

But at the mention of "U Hoa", her eyes light up. "U Hoa is a wonderful person" she says. “U Hoa” is the name the children at the center have for Mrs. Hoa. “U” is a word that means “mother” in some northern dialects.

Mrs. Hoa says that in 2005, during a charity trip with the Hanoi Red Cross Society to deliver gifts to disabled children, she heard a child say she dreamed of having a job and earning her own living. The child’s dream started her thinking. She recalled, “When I returned to the north, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I could do to turn that dream into a reality.”

In 2007, she founded the Quynh Hoa Charity Vocational Training Center. She started out with 10 sewing machines and began teaching sewing skills to young people with minor disabilities. Sewing proved too difficult for those with more severe impairment because they couldn’t operate the machines.

Whenever someone told her what job they wanted to do, she researched it and then taught them how to do it. Among 20 crafts Mrs. Hoa has tried, she soon found that paper handicrafts were a good fit for many different kinds of disabilities. Those admitted to the center have either a mobility or mental disability. The most important thing is to be patient with them.

Mrs. Hoa admitted that it’s difficult to teach most able-bodied people. It’s a hundred times more difficult to teach disabled children. “I have to be patient with them. It takes dedication to teach people with disabilities, otherwise you can't do it,” said Mrs. Hoa.

“U Hoa” delivers vocational training to the disabled  - ảnh 2The Quynh Hoa Charity Vocational Training Center  (Photo: Vietnam+)

It’s hard to help people with disabilities master a craft, and even harder to find them a job when they graduate. “That’s a barrier for people with disabilities. Some get work in a workshop but can’t keep up and have to come back. I hope the State will conduct fact-finding tours of facilities like ours and create new policies to help disabled people,” said Mrs. Hoa.

What Mrs. Hoa is doing has touched the hearts of many people, especially the parents who have sent their children to the center. She has does more than give disabled people a marketable skill. She has given them greater confidence. And so far, as a matchmaker, she has created 23 couples among her students.  

“The children don't want to go anywhere because at the center they have friends, work, fun, and care. They get to know and fall in love with each other. We have already created 23 married couples," said Mrs. Hoa.

"U Hoa" is a name that expresses the special love and gratitude Hoa’s students have for their special mother. Like any mother, Hoa is happy when her children are happy.