Over the past 30 years, a homeless family has been living by the side of alley 316, Hoa Hao street, Ward 4, District 10 in Ho Chi Minh City. Cao Ngoc Hung is the family breadwinner who has spent long days of hard work to support himself and his family. When Hung was one year old, his father was infected with retinitis and heart disease, making him unable to do heavy work. Hung's mother washed clothes for wages. After 1996, she could no longer work because of Spondilitis. Hung's father had not been able to secure a house for his wife and children. Every- day he had to set up a plastic tent as a shelter for the family. When it rained heavily and the wind blew hard, every one was soaked wet. When he was seven years old, Hung went to school and sold lottery tickets. After completing sixth grade, he discontinued his studies because he had no money for school-fees. Hung was engaged in selling lottery tickets three times a day, but because he had no money to immediately pay off the agent, Hung could only pay later and lost 5% of the face value of the tickets, which corresponded to an interest of 150% a month. At the age of 20, he started working as a cyclo-driver. Riding cyclos is a hard and unstable job. He sometimes transported goods to Thu Duc district only to earn 25000 VND*. At other times, he rode and rode without having any passenger although he was exhausted and hungry. His family situation was dreadful then. With the introduction of the cyclo syndicate at the start of 1998, CEP branch of district #10 gave him a loan of 500,000 VND to repair his cyclo and buy lottery tickets for resale in the evening. He earned an extra 15,000 VND each evening. That addition meant a lot to a poor family like Hung's. In 1999, he sold his cycle and borrowed 1,000,000 VND more to purchase a second-hand Yamaha motor bike. Previously he made approximately 35,000 VND each day. Since he rode his motorcycle to carry passengers, his income has just increased by 10,000 VND per day, because his was an old vehicle which was often out of order and the repair cost a lot. Hung first borrowed 2,000,000 VND to have his vehicle renewed. Later he borrowed 3,000,000 VND and combined this with his savings and the money from the sale of his Yamaha motorcycle, to purchase a new vehicle for 10,500,000 VND. With the new vehicle he had more passengers. On average he earned around 60,000 VND per day. In 2002, he borrowed 4,000,000 VND from the branch. He spent the money on the purchase of a mechanic's tool-kit and the payment of study costs for his younger sister, who is now a sophomore of the Department of Information Industry, College of Natural Sciences. Hung now hopes to save up, to rent a house and run a repair shop. He was given loans five times and has never been late in repayments. The group budget shows that Hung's savings now exceeded 1,500,000 VND.
Asked when he would get married, Hung said, "At present my family has no shelter. We still have to live by the side of this alley. Seeing my family shivering with cold during heavy rains, I was heart-broken. CEP loans rescued my family from starving. I am presently working hard and trying to get a house for my parents. To have a proper dwelling-place for my family, I will certainly have to depend considerably on CEP funds. Only when my parents have got a house will I think of marriage."
( * US $ 1=VND 15,368 )