At KONE, our mission is to improve the flow of urban life. To capture the essence of urbanization, we bring you stories of people from 17 cities. Nguyen Thanh Duoc was born with a disability. But Ho Chi Minh City, he says, helped him become independent.

“I was born in Ho Chi Minh City, but I was abandoned by my parents at age two. Police officers found me and brought me to an orphanage, where I lived for 15 years. I started with nothing, but I managed to get an education all the way through university and have found good work since then. I would not have been able to attend university if I hadn’t been born here. I am an English teacher now, and I’m also involved with organizations which help disadvantaged people. I dream of providing my three young children with a strong education, and HCMC is where this dream can come true. The future of my children is what drives me.

I’ve lived in this city all my life and one of the biggest changes is how much easier it is for a disabled person like me to access buildings. The downside is overpopulation means it is difficult to find affordable, accessible housing. It used to be easy to find rooms or houses near the street, but now many places are down tiny alleys or up staircases. One great characteristic of the city is that people look out for each other. For example, some offer free iced tea or motorbike repairs to disabled people. I can’t find such assistance outside of the city. A favorite story which left a mark on me is the time I visited a family I worked with who lived deep in an alley that was too narrow for a motorbike. I left my bike unattended near the street, and when I returned it was exactly where I left it. This is a testament to the spirit of Ho Chi Minh City.”

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