Ho E Not used to beat his wife and their children whenever she refused to give him money for drinking.
“I was tired every time I came from the field and I craved for some alcohol,” Not told news website VnExpress from the central province of Quang Tri.
But one day, 15 years ago, his youngest child kept crying because there was nothing to eat. It hit him hard. He decided to stop drinking.
The head of Cu Pua Village, which is home to nearly 300 people of the Van Kieu ethnic group, said it took him years to persuade other villagers to follow suit.
He said everybody in the village knew smoking and drinking were a major cause of poverty and can lead to lung and stomach diseases, but they were habits that were very difficult to break out of.
Local men in the village used to drink and smoke all day, he added.
“People hated my idea at the beginning because many of them were alcoholics,” Not said.
But after seeing Not turned life around for his family, his neighbors began to change.
Ho Van Chuoc, a neighbor, said he even stopped gambling as well after following Not’s advice.
“Instead of spending the time on getting drunk, men can go to the fields and help their wives and build a better life for their children,” Chuoc said.
VnExpress said the entire village has never drunk or smoked since 2008, even during major festivals.
“People do not keep alcohol at home anymore, even if you pay them to,” a local woman said.
They also say no to drinking when traveling to other villages.
Local families say they are working toward the goal of earning VND100 million ($4,500) a year, which is quite an income in such a remote mountainous village.
Vietnam’s GDP per capita last year was around $2,000 according to the World Bank.