Born in a family of three children, Mr. Phan Minh Thong was deaf and dumb since birth due to malaria. Seeing people around speaking affectively to their own parents, he often wondered to himself if life was so unfair to him.
Not accepting such a grim fate, little Thong went to the Binh Thanh School of Hope for Hearing-impaired People in order to equip himself with adequate skills and knowledge.
It is in this special school that Thong was able to find hope for his future. Discovering his talent in arts, Thong spent more time on this subject besides following his regular curriculum of sign language.
In 2006, Thong graduated from the Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) University of Fine Arts to finally fulfill his dream. He was the first physically disabled person to receive a bachelor degree in Vietnam.
Thanks to his effort, he was granted a scholarship to the Republic of Korea on fine arts. Yet, his new dream of teaching arts to young handicapped people kept him in Vietnam. Despite the low salary, for the past 10 years, his teaching passion and the love for his own dear school have helped him happily fulfill the role of an arts teacher.
Mr. Thong shared that most learners in this special school are deaf-mute like him, making it especially challenging to transfer arts skills. Yet it is their learning effort and their patience that inspire him to find more innovative methods using sign language to successfully train them. In turn, these pupils’ love of drawing nurture Thong’s passion for arts and teaching career.
Seeing pictures of his students has never given him more satisfaction as those are the proof of their strong determination.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Than, Principal of the Binh Thanh School of Hope for Hearing-impaired People, stated that as Thong was once a student of this school, he is now considered the big kind brother of all children here. She and other teachers do appreciate all the efforts Thong has made.
According to Mr. Thong, his family, with his deaf-mute wife and his 4-year-old daughter, is a source of strength and care that he can always depend on. Together, the couple has overcome various obstacles that life has given them. And there has been no greater happiness than the birth of their own daughter, who is luckily normal unlike her parents.
To financially take care of the family, besides teaching, Thong is a part-time artist, drawing decoration pieces and portraits for people, especially in festivals.
Thong truly wishes that disabled children are able to find the purpose of their life and live it to the fullest.