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The blind children of Nguyen Dinh Chieu

Marie-Claire and Louise Sizaret from Luxemburg wanted to give something to unfortunate people, within the means they had as pensioners. In my company, they made a visit in November to the Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for the Blind at Lac Trung in Ha Noi’s Thanh Nhan Ward, where new constructioh projects are gradually replacing tumbledown dwellings and stinking arroyos. 
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I was haunted, throughout the visit, by Milton:
“And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent 
To serve therewith my Maker..."
 
In particular, I was moved by the answer given by the blind author of Paradise Lost to that ardent desire to serve God:
 
"They also serve who only stand and wait”
 
At Nguyen Dinh Chieu the unfortunate children are not left to “only stand and wait,” but are helped to develop their talent.
 
The school, sponsored by the Hà Nội Association of the Blind, provides primary and secondary education to around one hundred blind boarders, who are arranged to study together with normal children in the neighbourhood to spare them a sense of alienation.
 
A number of graduates have already taken up jobs at a nearby factory far the blind specializing in making rubber products. Other have founded families of their own.
 
It was an emotional experience to attend a concert by the school band during which the children also read their own poems.
 
“My soul is like a kite,” wrote Hoang Manh Cuong, inspired by the rustling of summer wind through the trees.
 
Cuong and his younger brother are both blind as a result of their father’s exposure to Agent Orange during the American war.
 
Trinh Xuan Phuong, a ten-year-old boy, found in the chirping of cicadas the call of school. “We’ll meet again, come, autumn,” he wrote. These and many other pieces are included in Van Tho Chu Noi (poems in relief), a Braille collection published by Kim Dong.
 
The school seems to be living up to the expectation of the man whose name it bears.
 
Nguyen Dinh Chieu (1822-1888) - “The Blind Poet” of Nam Ky (Cochinchina) - led a hard but proud life. He had just got a bachelor’s degree when he learned of the death of his mother. Giving up honour and wealth he went home to attend the funeral.
 
On his way, Chiểu fell gravely ill and lost his sight. The worst blow came when the rich man who had promised Chieu the hand of his daughter broke off the engagement.
 
Chieu opened a school in his native village where he also practised traditional medicine. He took an active part in the struggle against the French, refusing all rewards for cooperation.
 
He left a long story in verse depicting the misfortune and praising the fortitude of Luc Van Tien, a Confucian man of letters.
 
The book, named after the hero, is as popular in the South as Kieu by Nguyen Du is in the North.
 
However, if you intend to discover unique beauty of Vietnam this summer, please visit the site: www.halongbay-junk-boat.com
Or if you want to travel to Asia, the site below will help you: http://www.vietnam-cambodia-tours.com/tours/Combination_Tours/Vietnam_Laos_Tours/
Update : 27-03-2018

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