Name; May Ngoc
Age; 73 years
Profession; Former ground school teacher
Relation with interviewer; English student at the Charity Hospital Project
While most of the project in Can Tho Vietnam, were focussed on youngsters, the English lessons at the Charity Hospital are for a very small group of adults. Adults in the most different ways of the word, these students can be divided in to several different subgroups within elderly, which made this project very special. Extremly motivated people, who despite their age, still want to seriously learn.
I had the privilege to interview one of these very special people; May Ngoc. This lady is on my mind a lot, very warm and enormously driven to learn and to achieve.
My goal was to have an in-depth conversation with this interesting woman and while we were sitting in the sun, waiting for the class to start I grabbed my chance to talk to her. “Ofcourse, good to practice my English” was her first respond when I asked her if it was okay to ask some questions, lovely.
May is the oldest child from a nine headed family, a middle class family, were love was the most important nourishment. May has always lived in Saigon, nowadays better know as Ho Chi Ming City, where she received good quality education and where she became a teacher in a Vietnamese ground school. Right before the war broke out she started an English course, but she had to flee to the country side.
Her family was ripped apart brutally and May was appointed as ground school teacher at one of the convent schools in the Mekong Delta. "It was a horrible time but I was so gratefull to have the possibility to still be a teacher during this period". "Whenever I think back of this time, I still here the boms and the endless violence all night long". "Sometimes we needed to flee to one of the bunkers during the classes to keep ourselves safe". "In general I was very lucky during the war, I had food, shelter and was never attacked directly, not everybody was that lucky".
May's face looks sad when she tells me that not everybody within her family survived the war, but she starts smilling again when she tells me that this huge misfortune is also her biggest fortune in life. It gave her a daughter, actually a niece, where she took care off after her parents died in the war. Nam stayed alone for the rest of her life since her daughter was everything to her.
Together they came to Can Tho, where her daugther has her own family now. May is very proud to already be a grandmother as well. "When I came to Can Tho I found the rest I have always been searching for, I wanted to devote my life to others in need and that is how I came in touch with the Charity Hospital". "Every thursday I come over here to bring a big load of Dragon fruit which I grow on my own land".
May touches me deeply, I could keep on talking to her for days. She is so warm and loving, I cannot find the right words to describe the feeling this woman gives me. But classes are about to begin and we say a very satisfying goodbye to each other.
May leaves me with these last words; "The only thing we people want in Vietnam is rest, we only knew war for so many years. It is time to get some rest and to enjoy the beauty of life". That is so true, May.. That is so true!