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Published: March 14th 2007
Rin is a 23-year-old widow. Her husband died one year ago at age 29. Rin has two children: a son, Kin, age six and in grade one at school, and Thao, her two-year-old daughter. Since her husband’s death, Rin has had to return home to live with her parents.
The Vietnamese poor commonly die of treatable illnesses because they cannot afford medical treatment or medicine. You have to pay for everything at a Vietnamese hospital—and I mean everything; nothing is free. For example, if you need a drip, you need to buy it. If you need a plastic bowl to bathe yourself, you have to buy it. You need to purchase your own blood, food, water, pillow, blanket, etc. (I’m sure you get the picture.)
Consequently, many people, knowing that payment is not possible, do not even bother to go to the hospital. When you are struggling to have a bowl of rice each day, medical treatment is not even an option.
Nine people live in the small house with Rin. She and her children share a room; they have no bed, just some mats to put on the floor, a couple of blankets, and a pillow. I
often think when I am there about the lengths we in the West go to these days in search of the ever-comfortable mattress. Our mattresses have become so thick and deep, haven’t they? I sometimes wonder how we would cope sleeping on a concrete floor with a reed mat??? (We would probably need to spend the next month at the chiropractor!)
Rin has no other possessions. The house the family lives in has no doors or windows and has a very dubiously built staircase leading up to the family altar.
Rin is typical of the people that I meet—she asked for nothing, but said she would be grateful for anything I could help with.
Lifestart Foundation has been able to help Rin by paying for Kin’s school books, school uniform , bag and shoes, and school fees for one year. Rin currently starts work at 3.00am selling fish at the market. Her income is unstable, however; on a good day, she earns 7,000 to 8,000 dong. That converts to about 60 cents in Aussie Dollars.
She has lived her life on the riverbanks or on the river; this is the life she knows best. With that in
mind, Lifestart has helped her obtain nets for fishing and enough capital for her to start a small fish business.
A few days after receiving her nets Rin was so excited and couldn't wait to show me her large catch of fish made possible with her new nets. The fish represented a small step towards independence for her and the children.
Lifestart Foundation will continue to work with Rin and her little family and try to get them on their feet and, in turn, help them gain further independence.
Lots of Love from Karen.
For more information about Lifestart Foundation
P.S. I am leaving for Vietnam on the 22nd of March and will return to Australia in May. It may be a little difficult to keep the blogs going during this time however I will do my best to keep you up to date.
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