As an only child in a single parent household, life was tough. Without support from their extended family, Thao and her mother struggled to survive. When she married, Thao moved to her husband’s village on the outskirts of Hanoi. The couple had three children and continued to face many hardships. Their first daughter was born with intellectual disabilities and Thao put a lot of time and effort into caring for her, especially helping with her education.
In 2015, still struggling to make ends meet, Thao (then 29) heard about an opportunity in her village to learn about running a business and she decided to take part. YWAM Mercy’s family business training helped her improve the way she approached earning an income. After the training she decided to open a hairdressing salon to serve people in her village. She also encouraged her husband to take a loan from YWAM Mercy to invest in a sound system which they rent out as a service for events such as weddings and funerals. This has provided a more regular income for the family and now they have enough for their daily needs.
Through the YWAM Mercy training, she learnt how to serve her customers well and as a result has gained a good reputation. She has been able to organize her work to achieve a better work-life balance. Because of the hardships she endured in the past, Thao dreamed of helping others, especially those who are vulnerable and in poverty. Her husband also shared this passion. Serving others means more to them than making a lot of money.
ABOVE: Making herbal tea to give to COVID-19 patients in the south of Vietnam
For the last six years, since she started her hairdressing business, Thao has found that in the summer she is not as busy so she is able to devote more time to charity work. The couple have mobilized others to help individuals facing difficulties as well as communities experiencing natural disasters such as flooding, which happens quite often in Vietnam. They focus on isolated mountainous areas where there is deep poverty and people don’t have enough food, access to clean water, or hygienic toilets and children have limited access to schooling
Thao and her husband have learned from the training she received with YWAM Mercy, how to arrange their work and manage time with customers so that they can do both business and charity work well.
When COVID-19 struck Vietnam, they heard about the needs in Bac Giang Province which was particularly affected. Even though they don’t have a lot of resources personally, they were able to call for support from others in the village. As a result, they donated several tons of vegetables, and other food items to some of the hardest hit villages
ABOVE: Organizing the transportation of food and vegetables for those affected by the outbreak in Bac Giang Province
My family doesn’t have much, so I only can help people with my heart and my effort. I do not have money to give to charity, but I still help people in difficult circumstances. I can mainly connect people to help each other. In the time of the pandemic, we couldn’t work, instead of staying at home, we organized to help people in the outbreak areas.
ABOVE: Motivating local villagers to prepare 1,600kg of salt, sesame and peanuts for the outbreak of Ho Chi Minh city. This is a popular mix that people eat with rice when meat is short.
Due to the lockdown in Hanoi in May this year, hundreds of rural workers walked home past their house which is located on the shoulder of a main highway. Thao, along with other members of her charity club called “One Beating Heart” and members of other charity clubs in Hanoi, helped them return to their hometowns, taking care of providing meals and places to sleep, arranging the needed COVID-19 tests, contacting local authorities to receive them and managing their passage through isolation checkpoints.
Thao sees great value in charity and community work but knows she needs to balance it with business and family commitments as she learned in the YWAM Mercy training. She and other club members take an overnight bus to the mountainous regions where they help. They work all day and then come back on the bus that night. Her mother takes care of the children while she and her husband are gone.
During the lockdown, my husband and I had to sleep in our warehouse as the villagers didn’t allow us to enter our village because we had contact with a lot of drivers who delivered the vegetables we collected to the city hospitals and army barracks. Despite challenges like these, I will do continue to do charity work all my life.
Thao shared that she only wants to earn enough money through hairdressing to provide for her family’s daily expenses. She wants to have a happy and healthy husband and children. Instead of making money, she wants to spend time doing more and more charity work. The more difficult circumstances she sees, the more effort she wants to give to helping others in difficulties like she once faced.