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Published: September 20th 2007
Born in 1968, Menh doesn't remember her parents and along with many others she contracted polio at a young age. Her father died in the war. Fearing for her life, her mother quickly married again and moved on, leaving young Menh with her elderly grandparents.
Typically in Vietnam it is the woman who supports the family, and Menh’s grandmother was the sole income-earner, scratching out a living to support her grandchild. Menh speaks fondly of her grandparents whom obviously cared for her as best they could.
When Menh was 11 everything changed. Her grandmother was bitten by their pig. “It was only a small bite,”
recalls Menh. “It didn’t look very serious!”
Her grandmother continued working as if nothing had happened. Without proper medical attention the wound grew septic, the infection spread and soon Menh’s grandmother died.
Now there was no money for food. Menh’s grandfather sold their home and land and bought a small fishing boat. Together they lived on the boat but Menh’s grandfather was unable to support them by fishing. They grew hungrier and hungrier. Menh tells of her anguish as she watched her grandfather become weaker and weaker until eventually he died.
" TICKLED PINK! "
Menh on her brand new custon made three wheeled motor bike.
Menh had no food, no family, nowhere to live and was disabled. She went to Hoi An Market to sleep. She was to remain there for 27 years. Menh scratched out a living running errands and fetching water for the “tea ladies” at the market. At night she would just bed down on the floor. Soon she attracted attention
“The worst thing was not the rats that come out at night,”
whispers Menh sadly, “It was the men.”
To conceal herself, Menh was forced to climb up into the sweltering roof and hide in the rafters. She would tie herself to the beams with an old piece of rope so she would not fall down in the night. Or she would hide under rags and rubbish near the river.
On festival nights the police would come in the middle of the night and clear the market. Scared, Menh would slip silently into the dirty river and swim to the other bank where she would hide until morning.
Menh was to live like this for more years than I can imagine was bearable.
However with perhaps not much more than the will to survive, Menh's
perserverence and dogged determination is paying off and her life is finally changing.
When I first met Menh she was selling newspapers in Hoi An, getting around in one of the old antiquated push me pull me wheel chairs. Her son Huy used to hop on the back of the wheel chair and Menh would proudly take him to and from school.
Her husband was in a phychiatric hospital and life was still as tough as it had always been.
The local government recognizing to some extent Menh's plight assisted by giving her a small piece of land. They had also helped to build a very basic and very small shelter for her and Huy to live in. The only problem was that it was a long was out of town. Unfortunately Menh's disability did not allow her to get to her little shelter at night time, consequently Menh and little Huy were forced to continue sleeping at the market.
I previously did a blog about Menh and Huy which caught the attention of one of our Lifestart Foundation supporters from Melbourne, Australia.
Thanks to his kindness and generosity, Menh is now the extremely proud owner of
MENH & HUY
Prior to recieving her three wheel motor bike Menh would take Huy to and from school in this old rickety wheelchair.
a brand new custom modified three wheel motorbike.
This now enables Menh and Huy to travel to their shelter in the evening( I call it a shelter as it is not really a house that you or I would identify with ), where they are finally able to sleep........safe and away from danger. As you can well imagine the three wheel motor bike has also given Menh an enormous boost. Menh now has a permanent big smile on her face and I am sure her faith in humanity is gradually being restored.
This " gift " represents so much more than we can possibly fathom.........most importantly it says that someone finally cares........
Lots of Love from Karen.
View Menh and Huy's previous blog A GLIMPSE AT MENH & HUY'S LIFE
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