Published: May 14th 2007May 14th 2007
With just a little support and a relatively small amount of money, Hiep is well on the way to achieving his dream...
Please leave me a comment below if you have any ideas how we can help others in the disabled group to support themselves.
I have just returned from a frantic trip in Hoi An. I apologise if I have not yet been able to reply to your emails. I’d like to share with you the amazing story of one member of the Disabled Group - Hiep - the charming man who dreamt of becoming a herb farmer…..
His family were very poor farmers who always worked hard, but struggled to survive. Hiep tells how, when he was young, he dreamt of being successful so that he could help his parents. Sadly he contracted polio when he was seven years of age and his left leg became paralysed. Hiep’s father died and Hiep was unable to find any work because of his disability.
His elderly mother owned the land around his tin house. Hiep dreamt of transforming the abandoned land and growing herbs but could not afford the money for seeds.
I visited Hiep many times on my last trip. His vision was clear, his enthusiasm was plain to see - but I simply could not imagine how he could physically manage to transform such an overgrown wilderness!
With one leg completely paralysed, he is unable to stand unaided
or walk without crutches. He has fantastic upper-body strength (no doubt from working his push-me, pull-me rickety wheel chair!) However to transform the land, he would need to pull himself along on his bottom. Much as I would have liked to support his ambitious plans to cultivate the entire plot - I just couldn’t see how it was possible!
I decided to start in a small way - to see what he could do. On behalf of Lifestart, I gave him a seedling grant to clear and plant just part of the land and promised to return on my next trip to follow up on his progress.
When I returned, Hiep’s land was unrecognisable and so was Hiep. Gone was the shy, quiet man and in his place was a man bursting with pride and excitement! He couldn’t wait to show me the long, neat, rows of healthy, organic herbs; mint, chives,spring onions, lemongrass.... He’d even managed to sell some already!
I simply could not believe the transformation and had no qualms at all about giving more money so he could cultivate a further portion of his land.
Hiep cannot read or write, so we will
also help with his education. He is a man inspired! For the first time since he was 7, he can see a future for himself.
When I first met the disabled group, Hiep only spoke when pressed. He seemed happy to be included, but just wished to observe. This time when we met, Hiep was eager to stand and address the whole group of 65. He is bursting with pride and excitement... at what he has achieved ...and what he now feels is possible.
It was a heartwarming sight.
Hiep is just one member of the Disabled Group. I hope we can help many more.
I really appreciated all your supportive comments in response to the last blog on the disabled. Many of you believe it would be possible to sell their goods and we even received some offers of help, including the offer to set up an internet site showing their work.
I have been thinking of the best way to make the most of your kind offers. Here’s one initial idea:
- If people are willing to sell the work of this disabled group, perhaps they could order a range off the
internet, choosing a selection of the work they feel most saleable, be it bags, silk embroidered pictures, paintings, cards.... Then they could sell the goods for charity (either to family & freinds or at events) and pay the money into the Lifestart account.
There would have to be a minimum order value - of at least a few hundred dollars, because of the expense of sorting and posting the goods from Vietnam or Australia. However the system could work on trust, so you would not need to send any money up front, just sell the goods as quickly as you can, so that the money can start going back to the disabled! Lifestart would pay the disabled up front for the initial materials, an amount for their time, and for postage.
We could supply a printed sheet with the individual's photo and story with all the goods they produce.
This website and internet business may take some time to get up and running and would potentially be a voluntary part time job for someone who is computer savy.
However I have no doubt that it would be a very rewarding volunteering experience for
one of our Lifestart supporters.
Initially it would be easiest to co ordinate this project out of Melbourne, Australia, as I would be able to transport the majority of the goods to Australia on my return trips.
Again, leave a comment below and let me know what you think. I'm just trying to gauge support, so let me know if you (or a group of friends) would consider helping in this way.
I know if we work together, we could change the lives of many more in the disabled group. They are desperately keen to support themselves but don't know how to go about it.
With our help, I feel that Hiep's happy story could become one of many!
There are more photos below