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Published: September 4th 2007
You can try and imagine how frustrating it is to be disabled - but in Vietnam it must feel even worse. The disabled rely on these “push me-pull me” type of antiquated wheel chairs with which they propel themselves around the rough, pot holed streets.
It is my dream to provide more specially adapted three wheel motor bikes to help the disabled to be more independent. It's a relatively easy way to transform someone’s life.....
Take lovely Hanh, for instance. For over 18 years she has been largely confined to this bed. Unlike many of the group, she was not born disabled and she did not catch polio. When Hanh was eighteen, she was run down by a foreign truck driver.
Hanh’s father had a brick making company and used to deliver the bricks in a wooden cart. One day Hanh was helping him push the cart when a truck driver crashed straight into the back of her. Hanh didn't even see him coming. She can remember nothing of the accident - only how she woke in the hospital and couldn’t feel anything from her waist down. She tells of her disbelief, her sense of panic,
when they told her she would never recover.
Hanh is 36 now. For eighteen years she has been confined largely to this simple wooden bed watching the world and in some respect, life go by. She has seen all of her 10 brothers and sisters marry and leave home and now she lives there alone with her very elderly parents, worrying about how she will support herself in the future.
On the wall, is a haunting picture of Hanh before the accident - beautiful, vivacious, on the brink of her adult life.
In many ways that life is only now just beginning. Through the sponsorship of an English family, Hanh has become the proud owner of a three-wheel motorbike that has been specially adapted to meet her medical needs.
When Hanh was told of their plan to provide her with a motorbike - her eyes shone with a mixture of tears and excitement - “But that will mean I can visit my friends!”
she cried in disbelief!
For in Vietnam the disabled do not seem to expect anything. Hanh had never once dreamed she would be able to ride around freely on a
motorbike. “They cost millions and millions of dong….” She whispered reverently.
Hanh’s right - it costs anywhere from $1,500 - $2,000 aud, to supply and adapt a three wheeled motor bike. For Hanh, all the controls had to be made manual and a special seat frame built to support her. Many modifications have to be made to the motorbikes in order to make them safe, including the exhaust being covered because in Hanh's case she wouldn’t know if her legs were burning.
The vice- president and the president of the disabled group spent weeks researching the best way to adapt a three wheel motorbike specifically for Hanh's needs- the result has transformed Hanh’s life.
Not only can she visit her friends she can take them with her! With a girlfriend perched on the back, Hanh has been venturing further and further afield. The other day they drove 30km to Danang!!!
At 36, Hanh is grabbing the chance to do all the things she has dreamed of since she was run down at 18.
Her shiny three wheel motor bike is parked right next to her bed! Not your typical biker(!) she is the proudest owner
There's something lovely about Hanh
She's so shy, so quiet and dignified. She doesn't complain or ask for anything and she's so grateful and amazed at the help she has received
you will ever meet. Naturally quiet and shy, she can't wait to tell you all about her new transport. She enthuses about the bike is if it was her new friend….
“This bike has given me back my life!”
she whispers in excitement.
Whilst gaining independence with mobility is a high priority, of equal importance is to ultimately help this group of disabled people to become financially independent.
Not only has Hanh been given a much greater degree of independence with her mobility, Lifestart Foundation has also been able to help her on her way to financial independence. Thanks again to the Lifestart supporters from England and in particular their 10 year old daughter Helena.
Have you ever wondered ...............can one person really make a difference??? Well here is how a socially conscious, very motivated young 10 year old from England did just that.
Prior to getting her new motorbike, Hanh spent day after day lying in bed. To pass the time and to try to earn a little bit of money Hanh would crochet woollen scarves. She did this lying on her back as it is too difficult and painful to remain sitting for
Hanh proudly displays her new range of scarves
Helena designed these stripey, skinny rib scarves to appeal to her school friends
long periods of time.She has been determined to try to earn an income to support herself, so as not to be a burden on her elderly parents.
Hanh has been crocheting these lovely scarves for about three years and her sisters have been trying to sell them for her. In three years she has only managed to sell one or two.
This is when 10 year old Helena decided to get involved and to help Hanh with her scarf business. Helena spent time designing styles and colours that she thought would be popular and easy to sell in the U.K. She then set about establishing Hanh's scarf business via the internet.
Helena emailed all her friends and told as many people as possible about Hanh's scarves. In no time Hanh had orders for over 50 scarves. It takes Hanh two to three days to crochet each scarf. I can only imagine that now as she lies on her back crocheting it is with a new found happiness and purpose in her craft.
Hanh is now very busy completing all of her scarf orders for the U.K. Having support and encouragement with her scarf business and finally being mobile
have helped transform Hanh's life in a way that she could have never imagined.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET INVOLVED AND HELP???
If you would like to help sell Hanh's scarves please contact Karen. The scarves would sell for about $10 aud. Unfortunately it is simply too time consuming to deal with individual orders however if there are supporters out there who would be willing to pay for and order a minimum of 10 scarves at a time and then sell them to help Hanh that would be wonderful!
The cost for 10 scarves being $100 aud + postage. All of the proceeds would go directly to Hanh with Lifestart ( me ) being the conduit that would take orders, post scarves and transfer payment to Hanh.
I am sure after hearing Hanh's story the scarves would be relatively easy to sell.
In the future I hope to have a dedicated internet site to sell the different wares that the disabled group are making, in the meantime I will try to help each individual in this way.
I also hope that in the not too distant future Lifestart Foundation is able to help many
more people who are in similar circumstances to Hanh.
Lots of Love from Karen.
Thanks to David Smith for these photographs.
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