“Mum” to hundreds of children with autism

With the warm heart of a mother, Do Thi Nhi, owner of private special school Binh Minh in Tu Son Town, the northern province of Bac Ninh, has raised hundreds of children with autism, helping them gain confidence and lead a normal life.

“Mum” to hundreds of children with autism
Caring for all: Nhi intended to build a green and pupil-friendly school to help children in need.

Children call her “Mum”, which demonstrates her successful work with the children.

Born into a poor farmer family in Phu Lam Commune in Bac Ninh, Nhi had a difficult childhood.

She was the ninth child in her family. At 3 years old, her mom passed away, while one of her older brothers was born with a brain disorder which affected his growth.

Every day, the family received help from their neighbours. Some gave them food, some clothes, some footwear, so they could go to school.

“I lived in difficulty but I did not stop dreaming to become a teacher,” Nhi said. “Not a teacher for normal children. I wanted to become a teacher for children with difficulties, disabilities and orphans so that I would have more of a chance to help people, especially children in need.”

“Mum” to hundreds of children with autism
Warm-hearted: Nhi said herjob requires love, patience and respect.

To realise her dream, at a young age, Nhi did many kinds of jobs to earn money. From polishing wood furniture at Dong Ky Wood Handicraft Village, working on a farm, to cutting grass.
At school, she always achieved good results.

In 2009, Nhi passed the entrance exam to the Special Education Faculty, Ha Noi Teachers’ Training College No 1.

At college, she was active in volunteering for clubs. She took part in volunteer teaching at social welfare centres and other orphanages in Ba Vi District, Hanoi.

She has always been among the most excellent students of the college with top prizes at teaching competitions.

After her graduation in 2013, Nhi was offered jobs at some schools and institutions in Hanoi but she refused.

“I wanted to contribute to my homeland,” she said. “So I decided to return home to Bac Ninh, to realise my dream – helping needy children.”

“Sunrise” for children with autism

Setting up Binh Minh (Sunrise) school with hardly any capital, she was faced with untold difficulties.

But with support from children’s parents and charity organisations, she overcame them all.

In 2016, the special school for children with disabilities and autism was opened.

The school was designed to meet the diversified demands of children with different deformities, provide early treatment to children of 18 months to six years old, restore functions for children between 6 and 13; provide vocational training to children in the province and neighbouring localities in Quang Ninh, Hung Yen, Hanoi, Bac Giang, Hai Phong, and Hoa Binh.

“Mum” to hundreds of children with autism
Lifelong passion: Nhi has realised her dream of taking care of children in need. VNA/VNS Photos Thanh Phuong
 

Nhi intended to build a green and pupil-friendly school while applying technology to support children with autism.

The school also teaches children IT and co-ordinates with other similar institutions in Vietnam, enhancing people’s awareness in educating children with disabilities.

“My job requires sincere love, patience, respect and hope for children,” she said. “I’m not a pure teacher or psychology trainer but the one who loosen the lock of the children and their families.”

“When they call me ‘mum’, I feel both happy and pressured. I always tell myself to be stronger for them to lean on.”

After nearly three years, the Binh Minh School has helped over 200 children with disabilities, 60 of whom have gone to normal schools.

Some 50 children have been advised to be educated at home with the support of the school.

Needy, orphaned children or children of single mothers and children born into poor families get fee exemptions of 30-100 per cent.

Children living far have been provided with boarding facilities.

“I found her to be an active, enthusiastic teacher,” said Ha Bich Hao, a teacher at the school. “She has always tried to find the most effective way to help the children. She is also kind-hearted. She has not only shared her knowledge and skills in solving problems but also supports us in daily life.”

Tran Thi Huong, a parent, said after five months learning at the school, her son’s behaviour has improved.

“He can communicate better, look straight into my eyes when we talk and is more active in communicating with other people,” she said.

“Such small changes bring happiness to children with autism like my son,” she said.

Last year, Nhi wrote a project titled "A Sustainable Education Model for Children with Special Demands" in Bac Ninh.

The project won the highest prize at the Viet Nam Women Prize and Women Start-Up Day 2018, beating nearly 1,000 projects competing.

The project reviews the increasing number of children with autism and other disabilities in the province, proposes solution to set up an education model for such children by applying advanced technology.

The project has been highly appreciated by the province authorities, who have assigned concerned agencies to facilitate and support Nhi to carry out her project.

By Diep Truong

VNS

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