ĐÀ NẴNG CITY – Nguyễn Thế Cường, a double arm-amputee, lives in Hoà Vang District of Đà Nẵng City. Despite having no hands, Cường uses his legs for farming, and has started his own business in his commune.
His farm is located close to the edge of the forest. It does not have a beautiful name like many other farms in Hoà Ninh Commune, but instead pokes fun at his own misfortune.
Every morning, the local people can hear the sound of soil-milling machinery at the Cường Cụt Farm (Amputated Cường's Farm).
He puts on safety glasses, stoops over and presses his shoulders tightly to the two hands of the machine to prepare the soil for vegetable planting.
After tilling the land he uses a shovel to create beds so that his wife can spread the seeds.
Farming is hard even on those who have not suffered Cường’s misfortune, but he manages the challenge as well as anyone.
In 2004, he had an accident when he was a second-year student at Đà Nẵng University of Technology. He had taken on work as a builder to pay his tuition fees.
While working at a construction site he was electrocuted by a 220KW current. Cường’s life was saved at the hospital but both arms had to be amputated to the armpit.
He had to stop studying, and his future became uncertain.
When he returned to his hometown of Quảng Nam Province, Cường became shrouded in self-doubt and depression. However, with the encouragement of his family and friends, he began learning to write with his feet.
"To adapt to not having hands, the first thing I did was to practise writing with my feet," Cường told Tiền Phong (The Vanguard) newspaper.
After mastering the art, he then started to use his feet to type on a keyboard. When he became proficient in operating computers with his feet, Cường decided to move back to Đà Nẵng City to open a small Internet shop to make a living.
Within a few months of opening his internet shop, Cường became a famous gamer in Đà Nẵng City.
One day, in an “online martial arts congress”, Cường appeared and surprised everyone with his skills.
The turning point in his life however was meeting a girl named Trần Thị Minh Thư from the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai.
Cường first met Thư when he went to try on prosthetic hands in HCM City. Thư was there as her father is also an amputee from an accident.
After meeting a few times Thư fell in love with Cường because of his cheerful and optimistic personality.
The love of the young couple did face some challenges. Despite emphasising with Cường’s situation, Thư
However, following her heart, Thư moved to Đà Nẵng City with Cường. In 2009, they got married.
Thư’s love has given Cường even more strength. She has become arms to help him become stronger and more confident in life.
"Life took away my hands, but in return, it gave me a wife who loved and understood me better than anyone else," Cường said.
"It was she who helped me achieve my dreams and ambitions and continue moving forward," he said.
From the initial internet shop, the couple saved money to open more shops in Đà Nẵng. Cường also learned to become a good computer repairman.
"At that time, installing Windows application and fixing computer errors were very popular, so Cường had many clients," Thư said.
"He set up a company for computer repair and application installation. Everyone admired him when they saw him doing his job with his feet," his wife said.
"And because of being kind and cheerful, he was liked by many clients so he earned well,” she said.
Moving on to farming
Gradually, revenue from the internet shops and computer repair business decreased. In 2017, the couple decided to go to southern Bình Dương Province and Đà Lạt City to learn about growing organic vegetables.
Appreciating the disabled man’s will, many experts and farm owners passed on their organic vegetables growing secrets to him.
Armed with this knowledge, Cường decided to open a business on vegetable planting. Coincidentally, the city was running a project to support the development of high-tech agriculture.
The couple decided to take a risk by mortgaging the family’s house and other property to borrow more than VNĐ1 billion (US$44,000). They used the money to rent three hectares of land in Hoà Ninh Commune to grow organic vegetables.
"Organic farming was a new story. I had to learn about using beneficial microorganisms to control harmful microorganisms and not to use pesticides. Knowledge is need on crops, varieties, nutrition and care methods," Cường said.
"Learning to farm was difficult but learning to farm without hands took even longer. It was very very difficult," he said.
At first, the couple faced many difficulties and challenges. The image of a man without two arms farming in the mountains surprised many local people.
They paid hundreds of millions of đồng on renting labour and buying vegetable seeds. Many times they struggled because of the weather and organic diseases in their products.
However, thanks to their determination the couple’s farm has gradually yielded good results.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cường and Thư redoubled their efforts to ensure a fresh supply of vegetables.
The couple plan to gradually supply produce from their farm directly to customers' dining tables.
Cường knows that the days ahead will be full of tough challenges, but with will and energy, he and his wife will reach their targets. – VNS
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