Member: Dang Thi Gam

Age: 68

Living: Y Yen district, Nam Dinh province

One Monday morning, I returned to center 39, Tien Thang village, Yen Dong commune, Y Yen district, Nam Dinh province. In 1999, center 39 was one of the first centers that had TYM activities in Yen Dong commune. Since the women here have joined TYM for 22 years, they considered TYM as an indispensable part of life. Many TYM’s members’ families have considered TYM staff as members of their own families. Today, Ms. Dang Thi Gam again recounted her story during more than two decades of working with TYM. Ms. Gam was one of the first women in the village to join TYM when we launched our activities in Yen Dong commune in 1999.

In those 90s, her parents-in-law were old and weak while the children were still young. The meager income from the job of Mrs. Gam’s husband as a security guard and from Mrs. Gam’s small trading business is just enough to cover the family’s living expenses. She wanted to take out a loan from a bank for a bakery business, but it was difficult because she had to mortgage her red book. Her sales capital was so limited that every day she had to calculate carefully when she bought food for the family to have enough capital for her bakery business the next day. Therefore, when TYM started its business in Tien Thang village, all the women there registered to participate, although in those early years, if they wanted to join TYM, they had to go through 5 lessons. “When it came to studying at that time, I was really shy, and it took time. But it was one of the best (and arguably the only) way for women like me to get a loan at that time,” said Mrs. Gam. After the exam of 5 lessons, Mrs. Gam was able to borrow VND 500,000 without paying any fees or mortgage. Mrs. Gam bravely spent all VND 500,0000 to buy rice to make cakes. With more capital, she can make more cakes and work more proactively. Thanks to that, she earned money to pay weekly for TYM and to cover her family’s living cost, to send her children to school, and to accumulate more business capital. After 22 years, Gam has borrowed the maximum amount of capital from TYM for her bakery business. In 2010, thanks to the money accumulated from selling cakes and her husband’s salary, the family built a solid roof house to replace the 3-room tiled house left by their parents.  Their life has gradually become better, her children have all grown up and settled down. This year, Mrs. Gam is busy taking care of her grandchildren, so she does not go to the market to sell cakes anymore. Instead, she borrowed 50 million VND to invest with her son and daughter to open a hat sewing factory. She confided, “TYM is very suitable for us rural women. We were able to borrow money, save money, and then learn a lot of useful knowledge and have cultural exchanges. In the past, our center also burned candles committed to building a strong center and celebrating its birthday. Thanks to that, life also opens many new gates, adding new colors. “Because I am interested in TYM’s activities, I also mobilized 3 sisters-in-law, 2 sisters, daughter-in-law and daughter to join TYM. I will join TYM for a long time, I’m just afraid that I won’t be able to join when I’m old,” said Mrs. Gam. Hearing that, I felt touched because it turned out that our work was the most “valuable” right now. Women who have been with TYM for nearly a quarter of a century, still want to be with TYM. I said, “Don’t worry, if you are a member of TYM, you will always be a member of TYM. Only when women no longer need, TYM will we leave. As long as you still have the need to join TYM, we will still serve you.” Hearing this, Mrs. Gam smiled happily again: “Then I promise I will stay with TYM until I get old”.