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Published: November 29th 2006
Have a read about Song and let me know if you would like to help.
Song (pronounced Som) was born with polio. I have been working with Song for a few years now, and he has done several courses through the Lifestart Jobstart Program. Although a few health issues and stints in hospital have disrupted his courses, he is well at the present time.
Song, who is very bright and intelligent, has completed year 12. It is difficult enough for an able-bodied person to get employment—even with a good education—and unfortunately, Song’s disability puts him at an even greater disadvantage.
Currently, Song is employed at a workshop for the disabled making silk lanterns. While the hours are not too bad, the salary is very low. He works an eight-hour day and earns 300,000 dong per month, which works out to about $25 AUD.
When I talked to Song about finding higher-paid employment, he explained to me that the disabled workshop has been very kind to him and he has friends there (something he has not had before). He has a sense of commitment and gratitude and is happy to stay put for now. Even though his salary
is not enough for food each day, it is nice to know that it's not always about the money...
Hoi An is quite famous for its beautiful hand made silk lanterns. Once a month, Hoi An shuts off its lights, and lanterns illuminate the town. It is a really special time to be there.
I spent some time at the disabled workshop with Song and decided to order 350 small lanterns for our next fund-raising dinner in July 2007. We are having the lanterns embroidered with “Lifestart 2007,” and each guest who attends the fundraiser will receive one as a gift. These mementos will also make lovely Christmas tree ornaments for guests to take home.
Needless to say, everyone in the workshop was very excited about such a big order. Then I saw a look of panic set in on Tam, the manager’s, face. He asked me, "You don't want them by the end of the week when you are leaving, do you???" I quickly reassured him that they will have until next July to complete the order. The lanterns will not all necessarily be the same (even though that is what I have requested) and they
certainly won’t be perfect—but that is exactly what will make them absolutely perfect!
I spend time with Song every trip. He is a lovely, gentle boy and, like so many others who need so much, he never asks for anything. Song's mother works in the rice paddies. They live together in a small house a long way out of town—a house that has little or no furniture and that does not accommodate his chair, so that Song must slide along the floor to move around. (He has no use of his lower limbs but has good upper body strength.)
His home has no facilities whatsoever to make his life easier. There is no bathroom, so even the basics are an everyday challenge. Nevertheless, he manages with a smile and no complaints.
Song travels to the disabled workshop everyday in his chair on the highway, a long and quite dangerous trip. He returns home at the end of his eight-hour shift the same way. He moves the chair by pushing and pulling the handle bar (hard work, as you might imagine).
This trip, I looked into the possibility of getting Song a three-wheeled electric scooter, which are available
and, to my surprise, not too expensive. I was quoted about $800 AUD for a new scooter with all the extra specifications that Song would need. An electric scooter would make life so much easier for Song to get to and from work. So, here's the challenge and how you can help...
I am hoping to raise enough money to get this electric scooter for Song by the end of this year. If you would like to donate a little or a lot, please get in contact and let’s see if we can do this together.
Even though Song is Buddhist, an electric scooter would be the Christmas present of a lifetime for him.
Lots of Love from Karen.
Please mark any donations “Song's Scooter.”
Online donations for Song's scooter can be made via the Lifestart website www.lifestartfoundation.org.au, or cheques can be made out to Lifestart Foundation.
182 BUCKLEY STREET
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