Revamped bicycles change lives of disadvantaged students

A man from the northern province of Ninh Binh has spent the last 10 years collecting old bicycles, repairing them and giving them to those less fortunate.

Revamped bicycles change lives of disadvantaged students
70-year-old Le Trong Kinh, from the northern province of Ninh Binh, collects old and used bicycles, repairing before giving them to poor students. VNA/VNS Photo Thuy Dung

The bicycles that Le Trong Kinh provides aren't worth much money but greatly ease the hardship for students to pursue their studies and motivate disadvantaged people to overcome difficulties.

The 70-year-old has presented more than 150 bicycles to needy people so far.

The idea came to him after his daughter’s charity trip to several northern mountainous provinces. During the trip, she saw a large number of students who lacked clothes and textbooks. Their families couldn’t afford their vehicles so they had to walk long distances to get to school.

Kinh said he sent several bikes that he had just assembled to needy kids in the region.

The story inspired him to repair as many bicycles as he could to give to disadvantaged students and families in his area.

Kinh said that after leaving the army, he worked as a teacher at the Vietnam-Russia Vocational College of Electro-mechanics and Construction in Ninh Binh Province’s Tam Diep City.

As he had a passion for antique bicycles, he often bought them to revamp and collect, he recalled.

After he retired, seeing many families had discarded old bicycles, he decided to buy and repair them for his family.

“Nowadays, many people use motorbikes and electric bikes so old bicycles are hardly used and to be sold," Kinh said.

He said it cost him between VND100,000-300,000 (US$4.3-$13) to buy an old bike but it would take a long time to fix them because it’s not easy to find spare parts.

He could go to repair shops to purchase a few spare parts but for rare ones, he had to wait.

To save money, he often collects spare parts from scrap dealers.

 

“Sometimes, I have to buy two or three old bicycles to assemble and refurbish into a complete bike. It takes me at least two days, a week or even a month to finish a bike.”

After assembling, Kinh paints the bikes to make them like new and spends time fixing the chains and brakes before giving them away.

As word spread about his efforts, many people supported him by giving used bikes.

Eighteen-year-old Nguyen Hong Ngoc, who was given a bike, said she was grateful for the gift.

“My hardship has been eased as I have a bike to get to school,” she said.

Ngoc and seven-year-old Pham Dang Quang were adopted by nuns at Trung Son Pagoda in Tam Diep City and used to walk to school which is several kilometres away.

“When the bike breaks down, I usually bring it to Kinh's house to ask him to fix it. He does not take money for the repairs and even tells us to strive to study well,” Ngoc said.

Talking about Kinh, Pham Trung Son, secretary of residential group No 5 of Trung Son Ward, Tam Diep City, said Kinh always upheld the characteristics of Uncle Ho’s soldiers and the good nature of Vietnamese people.

“The good examples of people like Kinh have contributed to spreading the spirit of caring for other people of our nation.”

Son said he hoped that Kinh would stay healthy so he could continue his meaningful work for the community.  VNS

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