Published: May 8th 2006May 4th 2006
Besides working with Lifestart, I’ve been tagging along with Giao (Vietnamese humanitarian) for a little insight on the kinds of projects and people she works with. It was Giao who introduced me to the Ly Chan family, and since then I’ve been interested to write, photograph and meet those that she helps as well.
Manh is now almost 3 years old. She suffers from HYDROCEPHALUS (water on the brain) and brain damage as a result of malnutrition. From what I understand this is a common condition. The life expectancy is only a few years but Giao helps the children and the families make the time more manageable.
Manh is the third daughter in a poorly educated and economically strained family. They live in a small house on the main road between Hoi An and Da Nang. Mahn’s mother cannot work as she spends all of her time caring for Manh. Manh’s father was the sole bread-winner who works as a casual unskilled labourer, but these days he is not around. So as of this moment, there is no income for food. I donate for a first month supply for the family (about $75). Giao
and I project that the family will need assistance for as long as Manh is alive, which will be app. another 10 months (her health is declining, she is rapidly losing weight and now weighs less than 4 pounds).
Meet SUA & XI
Vo Sua is 79 years old and has eye cancer which is quickly spreading. Her son Xi is 48 years old and was born physically and mentally disabled. They have no money and live in a very small home built by the government. Sua’s main worriy is that if she dies there will be no one to take care of Xi.
Sua and Xi live in the village of Cam Kim, about 10 minutes across the river. Giao and I boat over, then motorbike to the house (Giao is the only motorbike driver I truly trust by the way). As we pull up, Xi is sitting on the porch on a little red plastic stool and struggling to feed himself some rice from a bowl filled with dozens of swarming flies. His hands are shaking and he sobs as he rocks back and forth. He stops to look up at me with
Xi & Sua
Xi also can not walk, Giao is hoping for a wheelchair donation from a woman in Australia within the next few months.
watery red eyes and then quickly puts his head down and continues to eat, crying. I squat down to help shoo the flies away as he eats, but I just start crying, and I know that I had reached my limit. I have seen too much, felt too much, and have no emotional strength left. I still continue to work, I know these are the last of the “disadvantaged” I will meet in Hoi An. I take photos, and get their stories. Giao helps by bringing them food every week. However, we both have no answers for their future. Sua’s cancer would involve a very expensive operation in Hanoi or Saigon, and even if it is successful they don’t know how long it will last. As for Xi , who will take care of him? There is nowhere he can go, there is nothing he can do, and there is no help or services that can be provided, so it is probable he will die of starvation or neglect once mom dies. It is hard to come to terms with the fact that I can not help everyone I meet, the only thing I can think of for this family
Giao buys some milk for some of the children
is to share their story.
Giao takes me to meet some others, and while walking through the village I ask Giao how many of these people in these kinds of situations does she have on her list? 10-20? Giao stops and turns around...245.
NOTE: Anyone interested in helping those associated with Giao, please contact me directly. These are not Lifestart recipients.