'Ba' Khai, the father of orphans

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Le Hoang Khai's wife left him just two months after their marriage because he refused to leave the orphanage he was sent into 43 years ago.


He stayed to father generations of orphans, making sure they get as much love and care they need.


Khai works hard every day planting rice, peanuts, sugarcanes and working as a hired porter. He does all he can in order to feed orphans at Phu Hoa Orphanage in the central region's Quang Ngai Province.


He earns around VND100 million (US$4,850) every year while taking care of the children. Currently he looks after 17 kids and all call him "Dad".


Often, when the children say their first word it will be "Papa" and it is directed at Khai.


The man calls himself "the richest man in the world" blessed with having so many children.


Khai said there have been some times where he was tired of working so hard, and other times when he envied happy couples.


"But my sadness is gone when I think of the children. I grew up in this orphanage, so I'm gonna live for the orphans and make them happier than me," he said.


Khai was lost from his family during the war and was brought to the orphanage after he starved and collapsed at Quang Ngai railway station, he recalled.


His current name was given by sisters at the house but people would call him "Ba Khai."


Khai said his name came from the age ranking at the orphanage, with "ba" meaning "third." But since then, the children started to call him "ba", which means father. His name has a double meaning, he said.


Every day, Khai showers all the children one by one, and he'll even stay up all night when a child gets sick.


A local official named Nguyen Van Giao said he'd never forget the image of Khai riding a tricycle to bring the children to school.


Khai said he didn't dare let the children go to school by themselves as he's afraid of the traffic, Giao said.


Le Thi Ry Na, a girl at the orphanage now 13 years old, said "Dad is all I have for a family in this world. He takes care of me since I was born."


Na, now attending seventh grade, says she's going to make a lot of money to take care of Khai when he's old and to help other orphans like her.


The girl was named by Khai, who found her blood-red and screaming at the front door of the orphanage with swelled eyelids due to ant bites.


Khai said what he wants most in this world is for "no child to have to live in an orphanage."


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