Phúc, which means happy in Vietnamese, is 50 years old. Her husband is ill and not able to work. Her 20-year-old son is away at school, and she works and takes care of her 17-year-old handicapped son. Every day she carries him on her back across the wooden bridge, pushes him in a wheelchair to school, and then goes to work in the market to try to earn a living for her family.
In her tiny home, where I could not stand upright, the solar and wind provide enough electricity to charge two 12-volt batteries that run two fans, charge a cell phone, and a few lights. The batteries are not enough to run lights at night for her son to read.
Unlike most things in Vietnam, which are much less expensive than in the US, the 12-volt battery costs the same: $80. Phúc had a remarkable resiliency. I told her that her name, Happy, was appropriate, but she did not smile. “Life is very, very hard," she said; "but this is what I do.”
At the end of our visit, I asked Phúc if she would accept a gift from me to buy a third battery so that her son could read at night. It was the best Benjamin I have ever spent. We took a picture, and she asked for a hug before I left. I will always remember my visit with Phúc.
Follow Scott Tinker on Instagram: @doctinker
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