Thuong: to love with affection
I have become attached to Dak Nong within several days, and in one week I am completely in love. Father Soan, my translator, M. Duk and I get off the motor bike in front of a wooden cabin with a concrete foundation. We form a small delegation with the means to impress Tam, a young M’nong. He is not the eldest of the family but seems to be the most able. The parents are in the fields. For a 12 year old I am impressed by Tam’s comebacks in front of a group of strangers;
Father Soan: “Until what class did you plan to stay?”
“But if you had money until when would you like to stay?”Tam: “My father does not have money. All will depend on his income. For the moment he does not have any, therefore I cannot know.”
“What is the good of answering the question since we do not have the money?”
“But if I were to give the money to your father so that he could allow you to go to school, until which class would you like to go?”
(Tam frowns and gives his father a sidelong look) “I would like to go to school, but you have not yet given money to father. I do not know if what you say is true. If you give money to father then I will be able to answer you.”
This child knows what is at stakes for him to go to school. He understands everything. He already reasons like an adult, an adult with a blowpipe of wood between his hands. At that moment I understand the sense of thuong, thoung is tender love, it is to love with affection. We need to do something for these children; we are going to do something for them, as thuong is truly all that they inspire in us.
We leave and Tam goes to wash the dishes whilst his brother looks after the laundry. When the parents come home tired after a day in the fields at 35 degrees, the children will have prepared the meal.
We must do something for these children
200,000 M’nong or Moï in Vietnam or Cambodia, of which 88,000 in the provinces of Dak Lak and Lam Dong.
Report by Anh Duong. Previously published in Enfants du Mekong magazine No175.