Client with disabilities gets help from Saigon airport staff


“Approachable” and “generous” – are some of the most common words used by visitors to describe Saigon residents. The people here are known for being extra welcoming, even during the country’s largest medical crisis and economic downturns.

This impression couldn’t be any truer for 29-year-old Nguyễn Quốc Phương, a Hải Dương native who moved here 3 years ago. Thanks to the kindness of Saigon airport and airways staff, the underprivileged lottery ticket seller was able to fly home to visit his sick father. 

Here’s how the story unfolded.


He couldn’t afford airfare to go home


Saigon airport
Image credit: Thanh Nien

On 31st May, Phương received news of his father’s worsening health condition and rushed to the airport. However, he didn’t have enough money to pay for the airfare from Saigon to Hai Duong, which cost VND900,000 (~USD39.17).

Besides, his disability in his hands also made it impossible for him to complete the check-in routine and was thus denied boarding.

Facing one problem after another, Phương had no choice but to walk away. However, at the last minute when his hopes were gone, a miracle happened.

Saigon airport
Image credit: Thanh Nien

Touched by his story, some airport security and Bamboo Airways staff offered to pay for all of his airfare and helped him complete the check-in routine. They also gave Phương a small sum of money to tide over until he reached home. 

Thanks to the kindness of those strangers, Phương was able to get on the last flight home that day.

At 9.30PM, he landed in Hải Dương and was glad to find that his dad’s health was improving.

“I was so touched when receiving the flight ticket. I thought all doors were closed for me, yet I still got home to see my dad. I used the donations that the airport staff gave me to buy some gifts for my family members. They were all so glad that I met so many kind people out there. Those strangers’ fellow-feeling gestures warmed the cockles of heart enormously,” Phương reminisced on his heart-warming experience.

Little do those strangers know that not only did their compassion help Phương reach home, but they have also sustained the man in his promise land until this day.


Saigon residents’ kindness is his strength and stay


Saigon airport
Image credit: Thanh Nien

According to Thanh Nien, Phương was born with a wrinkly skin disorder and without fingers. When he was in grade 7, he dropped out of school after being bullied for his disabilities.

3 years ago, he moved to Saigon and made a living by selling lottery tickets. For those who don’t know, selling lottery tickets is among the lowest-paying jobs in Vietnam. Lottery ticket sellers are some of the hardest-working people but rarely earn enough to make ends meet. 

For 1 lottery ticket sold at VND10,000 (~USD0.44), a seller earns only VND1,000 (~USD0.044) off of it.

Although disadvantaged, Phương isn’t helpless. 

From free bus rides to free food, Phương has been the beneficiary of countless strangers’ kindness. Some people, after buying lottery tickets from him, even tipped him extra money to buy drinks for himself. 

“Many people with disabilities have to sell lottery tickets in wheelchairs. I’m more fortunate than them because I can still walk. Many Saigon residents that I don’t know are more than willing to help me when they come across me. That’s one of the reasons why I can survive in this town all by myself for the past 3 years,” Phương said.


Client gets help from airport staff to fly home 


All’s well that ends well. A client who couldn’t afford his airfare finally got home to see his dad, and the airport staff lived up to Saigon’s reputation of southern hospitality and generosity.

Not only does this story set a great example of work ethics and empathy, but it also reminds us that kindness still prevails under the most difficult circumstances.

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Cover image adapted from: Thanh Nien

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