Published: March 5th 2008February 13th 2008
BEHIND THE SMILE
Tung confided to me that he cries most days, such is his sadness.
Twenty-five-year-old Tung was healthy and strong; a hard worker with stable employment as a concreter and bricklayer. He had a girlfriend and he was in love. Life was good, and like so many young people he had hopes and dreams for the future.
Unfortunately, that all came to a crashing halt when Tung fell from a ladder whilst working one day... he broke his back. At age 25, he was a paraplegic.
During the next three months that Tung spent in hospital, he had many things to come to terms with. Life as he knew it was to change dramatically.
Tung's girlfriend left him, deciding that life with him now that he was disabled was not for her. The independence Tung knew before his accident was gone. He was sick for a very long time and would never be able to work again as he had previously.
Tung's mother died when he was four years old and his father subsequently raised Tung alone.
Although Tung's father is now very old and unwell, he still tries to get work as a rice farmer to support himself and Tung. They really don’t have enough money to buy
You can see where Tung gets his sunny smile from. Tungs father is unwell and elderly but still manages to farm rice to earn a little money for food.
an adequate amount of food each week.
The hospital costs after Tung's accident were so expensive they drained any savings that Tung and his father had. There is no Workers' Compensation; no government pension or financial assistance; no company or individual to sue after an accident such as Tung's.
Tung is a member of the disabled group that Lifestart Foundation supports and works with. He will admit he has had many days of depression during the past eight years.
Even though Tung has the sunniest smile you are ever likely to see, he told me that he still cries most days.
Since Tung has been a member of the disabled group, though, he feels a definite sense of belonging. The loneliness that he has endured over the past eight years is easing with new-found friendships.
The support group our disabled people have formed has become a lifeline for many who have struggled with feelings of isolation and hopelessness.
During my last trip we took Tung to hospital for tests and had his medical assessment completed by Dr. Josh Solomon from Denver, Colorado.
Tung arrived for his assessment alone and in a wheelchair, with
After pushing himself for three hours into town Tung finally arrives for his assessment with Dr. Josh. He is pictured with Ghi who is translating for him.
a catheter hooked up to a soft drink bottle dangling from the side of his chair. Whilst we waited for Dr. Josh to finish with his previous patient, Tung and I had a good chat. It was only then that I learnt that Tung lived a very long way out of town and it had taken him three hours to push himself into town to see the doctor and myself that morning!
Tung was on constant antibiotics for the infections he got so often due to not knowing how to take care of his catheter hygienically.
After I explained to Dr. Josh how long and how difficult it must have been for Tung to get into town to see us, Josh and I agreed that we would go to his house for subsequent visits. Of course the day we had scheduled for Tung's follow-up visit was pouring with rain and it was an hour trip by motorbike. Nevertheless, us being soaked to the bone was nothing compared to how tired Tung must have been coming in to town to see us on the previous occasion.
After visiting Tung and his father at their home, Tung catapulted straight
TUNG AT HOME
Tung spends many hours of the day on his wooden bed. He has no creature comforts at all. The walls of his house are tin and the roof above his head is cardboard.
to the top of my list as the next candidate who really needs a three-wheel motorbike.
Tung's life would change a thousand-fold if we could help him into motorized transport -- and goodness knows this young person is due for a bit of positive news.
So here’s the challenge to all of you wonderful Lifestart supporters:
Let's try and raise the money to make it happen.
The approximate cost to buy a new Honda motor bike and have all the necessary modifications made for Tung's particular problems will be $2000 aud.
If anyone would like to host a fundraiser to get Tung into motorized transport, please let me know.
To date, Lifestart Foundation has purchased and had modified five three-wheel motorbikes. The difference these bikes have made in the lives of the recipients cannot adequately be expressed in words. Suffice to say that it is a gift that they could never have dreamt of.
It represents dignity, independence, freedom and so much more........
Donations for Tung's three wheel motor bike can be made on line via the Lifestart Foundation website or a cheque donation can be sent to 182 Buckley Street, Essendon.
Dr. JOSH & TUNG
During this home visit Dr. Josh is explaining to Tung how to take care of his catheter and is prescribing new medication.
3040. Victoria. Australia.
Lots of Love from Karen.
-If you happen to find yourself in Melbourne on Sunday March the 9th. at around 12.00pm, come along and support James Everson-Crane who is Lifestart Foundation's entry in the Moomba Birdman competition. He will be jumping ( attempting to fly !) just down from Princess Bridge into the Yarra River.
- This will be the last blog for a little while as I return to Vietnam next week and the work load at that end does not allow me time to write blogs and updates.
- On my return to Melbourne I will be full swing into our Annual Fundraising event, The Lifestart Foundation Dinner Dance/ Charity Auction.
This will be held on July 26th at 501 Receptions, 501 Barkly Street, Footscray, Melbourne. Ticket price is $70 per head, this includes a three course dinner, wine, beer and soft drinks and a seven piece band Minute By Minute. If you can help by getting a table of 10 or 12 together or help by sourcing donations for our Silent Auction, it would be much appreciated.
There are more photos below