Kim is a class-nine student at SOS Hermann Gmeiner School Viet Tri in Vietnam. Like many other children her age, she enjoys singing and dancing. She is very fond of her school and teachers. 'My favourite subject is Mathematics', she says with her signature smile.
The smile on her face does not show any sign of the difficult times she went through as a child. She was only five when her father suffered from cancer. Her mother sold almost everything to fund his treatment, but after six months he passed away. After his death, Kim's elder brother started suffering from depression. 'Many nights I could not sleep because of my brother's screams. When he had a fit he would even beat mama, break things inside the house, it was terrible', Kim sadly remembers.
Somehow, her mother tried to manage the family. She worked as a mason from morning 'till late evening, but her income was limited. She borrowed some money to pay for Kim's school fees and her brother's medicine. Kim understood the difficulties of her family.
'One night I woke up and saw Mama sitting in the dark and crying. At that time, I promised her that I would study very hard and be the best student in class. I wanted to make her happy.'
The only hope
Kim was her mother's only hope and happiness. When she was in grade 6, she came across the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School in Viet Tri where she got a scholarship. With the help of a scholarship, she could study for free.
Now, after three years Kim is a star at school. Her class teacher is full of praise, 'Kim is an excellent student. She is sincere, disciplined and polite. She always listens to her teachers and gets good grades.' Last year she participated in a contest on the provincial level for philology and won an Encourage Prize.
Kim rides her bicycle to her school which is at a distance of 3 km from her home. When asked about her dream, she smiles and says, 'I want to be a teacher and teach poor students.' The teenage girl is enthusiastic and positive about her future. She also quotes her favourite saying, 'Lead to the sun, the dark is in your back'.
For privacy reasons, the names of the persons featured in this story have been changed.