Nguyen Vu Truong Giang, 21, was Monday honored with a certificate of bravery for his heroic act of rescuing a woman named K.P. who committed suicide on Saturday by throwing herself into the Saigon river from Thu Thiem bridge.
Giang (C) and his wife Hua Thi Luom and their two-year-old daughter
Passing by the scene, the young man from Kien Giang province in the Mekong Delta, currently working as a construction worker in Ho Chi Minh City, lost no time in attempting to rescue her. Leaving his wife and a two-year-old daughter on the bridge, he attempted to jump straight into the river.
Worried for the safety of her husband, Hua Thi Luom stopped him and advised her husband: “Don’t jump from here, run down to the river bank.”
“Don’t worry, I can swim,” he assured his wife while racing towards the foot of the bridge so that he could jump from a lower height and swam towards the drowned woman still floating in the middle of the river.
He struggled hard to keep her head above water and, unable to pull her to the shore due to the swift current, he tried to hold her body afloat on the two spongy pieces he had picked up near the river bank.
Both of them drifted in the direction of the water flow until a boat travelling by threw him a rope and pulled him and the woman ashore after 20 minutes.
Almost exhausted, Giang held her upside down and vigorously shook the body to drain water out.
“I felt much encouraged after pressing my palm against her cheek and feeling warmth,” Giang recalled. “I kept on holding her legs up high to drain the water out of her mouth and nose.”
“When she began moving her hands, I took her into a taxi to rush her towards the nearby Saigon Hospital in District 1.”
After the doctors assured him that she would be fine, Giang suddenly remembered his wife and daughter he had left waiting on Thu Thiem bridge but realized he had no money on him to take a xe om (taxi motorbike) to get back to them.
A woman taking care of her relative in the hospital knew the case and gave him VND20,000 (US$1).
The next morning, Giang and his wife took a day off work to come and visit the victim in the hospital as he had been told that she has no relative in the city.
Giang is taking care of the victim, K.P. in Saigon Hospital
Many rewards for the man with a big heart
Through the contact information he left at the hospital, Tuoi Tre journalists found the way to his house in Phu Huu ward of district 9.
It is a temporarily built hut of four square meters, with just enough room for a double bed and a cooker.
On receiving a cash prize of VND7 million (US$330) presented to him by Tuoi Tre newspaper, Giang said joyfully like a child, “I will send this prize home to my parents in Hon Dat district of Kien Giang.”
“It’s normal to do something to save a person in danger. I’d not hesitate to do it again if I found another human drowning in water,” he said firmly.
The couple said they have been saving up and planned to return to their home town in Hon Dat when they had VND30 million ($1,400) to buy a piece of land to set up their house there.
“Being a mason, I take my wife and daughter to the construction site I work for and set up a small shack like this to live in,” Giang told Tuoi Tre. “This is my fifth in the city. Many times we were driven off by local authorities for building it in the wrong place.”
“Saigon is beautiful but we got driven away many times,” his wife said.
After reading his story in Tuoi Tre, many readers have written in, offering the couple a stable job in HCMC.
Nguyen Kien, director of Vietnam Export - Import Bank (Eximbank)’s branch office in district 7, donated VND2 million to the family and offered to employ Giang and his wife in his agency.
Other philanthropists have also offered help to Giang in the form of cash donations.
Giang and his wife and daughter sitting next to their 4-square-meters hut temporarily set up in the campus of the construction site he is now working for in district 9, Ho Chi Minh City