Recently I explained how Lifestart hoped to help a group of disabled people to help themselves. In the long term we hope to offer training, seedling grants, medical assesment and assistance - together with help with mobility and transport.
For many of us it is hard to imagine life with a severe disability. It is virtually impossible to imagine being disabled in Vietnam where there is no financial or medical assistance available.
In an attempt at greater understanding, some Lifestart supporters, "TheEversonFamily" from the UK have been visiting some of the disabled group in Hoi An. Rachel has been concentrating on writing their stories, whilst her brother, David Smith, has been taking photos which he hopes to use to benefit Lifestart.
The stories are a fascinating mixture of sadness and happiness, tragedy and hope...
Here's Hoa's story....
The worst time in Hoa’s life was not when she caught polio at the age of two, or when she recently thought her husband might die because they could not afford a scan at the hospital. The worst experience she can remember, was receiving a letter many years ago - a letter that shattered her dreams.
All her life, Hoa longed to become a teacher. For twelve years, she worked hard at school, striving to be top of her class. She passed her exams, graduated from high school, and finally applied. Hoa had to travel 45 kilometers from Hoi An to Danang just to pick up the application form. She spent hours completing the perfect application, then returned it personally to Danang. She waited patiently for a response. Waited, and waited.
When the letter finally arrived, it stated that Hoa could not become a teacher because she was disabled.
recalls Hoa softly, “was the saddest day in my life.”
Despite being crippled by polio, Hoa says her two children, Thu (4) and Thuong (1)) make her very happy.
Previously Hoa worked as a typist and advisor in an internet cafÃ©, but now she stays at home to look after her children. Her mother (Dan) lives 8km away in the countryside, and can only help care for the children when Hoa is sick. Her father left her mother when she was born.
Hoa lives in a very small house. The walls are covered in old newspaper and the cot is broken
and worn. Her husband is in very poor health and only earns a little money doing odd jobs. Yet the children seem happy and Hoa actually feels doubly lucky in life, because of the unexpected kindness shown to her by two Vietnamese ladies……
Hoa could only go to her local school until 9th grade - hardly any students in the countryside can afford to make it this far. The High School is in Hoi An, where rent is comparatively expensive. Hoa thought she would have to leave school, but one “lucky” day, she was offered free board by a friend when her son went into the army.
Hoa moved to Hoi An and started High School. She loved it, but after just three months, her friend’s son returned unexpectedly from the army. There was no money to feed them both. Hoa knew she would have to return to the countryside.
Just as she was preparing to leave, the lady who lived in the small house next door, offered to house, feed and support Hoa for as long as she could. Hoa was to stay for three whole years until she graduated successfully from High School.
was a tremendous gift from a poor lady with two daughters of her own to support. Hoa has never forgotten her kindness. For the first time, her eyes fill with tears as she talks of her gratitude. Hoa feels truly blessed to have had this chance to finish school.
But how can she make the most of her education and computing experience?
When I ask how we can help Hoa to help herself, she suggests training in tailoring - that way she can do some work from home. This is important as they have no family near to care for her children.
I know that it is very hard to get tailoring work in Hoi An and it is very poorly paid. Hoa could make more money offering a typing & computer training service to the Vietnamese and she could do it from home. Why not do this instead?
Hoa chuckles at my naivety, patiently she explains:
“If I were to save every day, for my whole life, I would never be able to afford a computer!”
If we could raise enough money for a computer and printer - Hoa could offer
typing & teaching services to the local Vietnamese from home. Alternatively, perhaps someone has a fairly new laptop they do not use?
Hoa is a bright and determined woman who already has computing experience. Her husband’s health and income are unstable, recently when they thought he was desperately ill - there was no money for him to go to the hospital. Lifestart Foundation paid for his scan & treatment. Although he is partially recovered, Hoa knows she cannot rely upon his low and uncertain income. She is desperate to work and provide for her family.
If you wish to help Hoa and her daughters please contact Karen.
Lots of Love from Karen.
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