GIA LAI — In Krêl Village in Đức Cơ District of Gia Lai Province in the Central Highlands, one ethnic minority member stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Rơ Mah Chel is a inspiration to his peers and has gained the trust and respect of all those around him.
Together with the head village and local authority, he has helped residents improve their education, change the old habits, and apply advanced techniques in cultivation and husbandry to get out of poverty.
He is also the person who informs people of the Government’s policies and conveys their aspirations to the local authority.
Chel has been a teacher since he was 20. He chose the career as he believed that knowledge would change his life and he could help his villagers improve theirs too.
Chel said he started his job when the village was quite poor and underdeveloped. He had to go to every students’ house to persuade their parents to let the kids go to school. In the morning, he came and picked up the students and took them home, even continuing lessons late into the night.
Years have gone by and some of his students have become officials with the local authorities. He is still dedicated to the job at Võ Văn Kiệt Primary School in Ia Dơk Commune in Đức Cơ District.
Among few literate people in the village, Chel read books on techniques of cultivation. He realised that the land of his village was nutritious, but the crops’ productivity remained poor due to people’s lack of knowledge and old fashioned habits.
He decided to be the pioneer to change people’s cultivation techniques. He took courses on coffee and rubber planting and applied these methods himself.
After the first year, he had earned nearly VNĐ300 million (US$13,070) from two hectares of rubber trees, one hectare of coffee trees and more than 100 pepper trees. After several years, he built a new house much to the surprise of local residents.
People rushed to his home to ask for advice and Chel was happy to share his knowledge and experience with the villagers. The more he shared, the more he gained their trust and respect.
It was time for Chel to make revolution in changing people’s bad habits. He taught them to cook and preserve food properly. He told them to move the animal farm far away from the residential areas. He encouraged them to eliminate old habits and apply new technology in cultivation to improve the productivity.
Chel is also the person to give mediation for local couples and young people. He is enthusiastic about preserving the traditional culture of the Central Highland. Chel opens free gong classes to teach the young generation how to play musical instruments and contributes to rebuild the traditional Rông community houses in the village.
Đức Cơ District’s People’s Committee chairman Siu Luynh said the local authority highly appreciated Chel’s contribution to the cultural and economic development of Krêl Village.
He was among reputable and knowledgeable person dedicated to the cultural preservation of the ethnic minority in the locality. — VNS