Nguyen Van De is considered an extraordinary man in his native Vinh Hung Commune in Phu Loc District for doing things considered difficult even for someone without any disability.
One of them is locating fish and prawns in the waters of the 22,000-hectare Tam Giang Lagoon just by sound. For this ability he is known as “De the man who hunts fish with his ears.”
His wife Duong says proudly about her husband: “In Vinh Hung, no one can beat De’s diving skills.”
This helps him get higher wages than others, she says.
De is also a successful farmer.
In 2009 he started farming prawns and managed to build a one-hectare pond in the lagoon. The farm fetched him considerable profits, allowing him to not only repay his bank loans but also help set up a business for his daughter.
Later, when a prawn epidemic hit the area, bankrupting thousands of farmers, De quickly switched to farming crabs and fish. He has since continued to earn good money to support his family which now includes seven children.
“What he does and has done has caused many people to think that he pretends to be blind,” Duong says.
De himself attributes his skills to his long experience, good luck, and the guidance of his wife.
When he was young he went with his father, rowing around the lagoon to catch fish with nets. Doing this for many years “trained” his legs, arms, nose, and ears into being stronger and sharper, he says.
He remembers every nook and corner of the lagoon, and so can row a boat by himself and return exactly to his home wharf.
Whenever he starts doing something new, he says, he would ask his wife to describe things so that he can envisage them in his mind before carefully embarking on the task.
“Even though I have an impairment, I have many other things to make up for the loss of vision -- my arms, ears, and brain.”
But he reveals it took him a long time to reconcile with his loss of sight to smallpox when he was seven.
His father sold their rice fields and buffalos, but months of treatment were in vain.
“So I became a blind man."
He felt “sad” and “lonely” since he had been a normal person and was suddenly unable to see anything.
However, “God gave me good luck – I have the chance to do the work of normal people [despite the impairment].”
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Thanh Nien News. Original Vietnamese story by Lao Dong