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Published: April 30th 2008
NGUYEN ON THE STEPS AT DR.JOSH'S CLINIC
Nguyen "Oh very beautiful!" One of Nguyen's few phrases in English. She uses it for everything and it's great. Nguyen, how about a photo by these flowers? "Oh very beautiful!"
Meet Nguyen. I was introduced to Nguyen about a year ago by one of her former teachers, Miss Chi. At the time I discussed further study options with her and she needed a bicycle which Lifestart was happy to provide. I was unaware that Nguyen was seriously ill.
Nguyen lives a long way out of town with her mother and siblings, her father died some years ago.One of her brothers died three weeks ago. Her family is very poor.
Nguyen was born with a heart condition, commonly referred to as a “hole in the heart”. In developed countries, this would be detected at an early age and fixed by a fairly simple procedure. Unfortunately for Nguyen living in Vietnam meant that this condition was not diagnosed until recently. She needs a complete heart and lung transplant, which at this stage is close to impossible, even if performed in a Western country. At 21 years old, Nguyen has been given a maximum of 2 years to live. She must also be very cautious. We're told that if she catches any kind of infection,flu or virus, she wouldn’t make it past a few days.
Nguyen is a gifted
Nguyen pictured during an afternoon at the womens workshop. The workshop is currently held at the Lifestart Foundation Free School.
student and had completed year twelve, she dreamt of being able to continue studying and attending University.
Whilst I was in Australia Nguyen had travelled to Saigon for a battery of tests, her prognosis is not good. Her "hole in the heart " cannot be operated on in Vietnam. Five surgeons have agreed............. What next??? Dr. Josh is trying to get an oxygen concentrator donated during his next trip to America. I am told this could prolong her life. He will also talk to Cardiac Specialists about her condition, but it doesn't look promising. I will keep my fingers crossed.
Nguyen suffers from constant fatigue, nausea, dizziness,has poor vision and weighs a mere 34 kilos. Yet despite her physical suffering, I have never seen her without a smile. She is a ray of light...pleasant, cheerful, and very funny.
When I arrived back in Hoi An this trip, she was working at an internet cafe, 12 hours a day/7 days a week earning $10 aud per week. Most of her money was being spent on medication and very little on food.
I asked Dr. Josh to see Nguyen, during her appointment Josh and I discussed with Nguyen the
NGUYEN THE HELPER ( in pink )
Nguyen participates in the womens workshop and also helps the other women who have physical disabilities. I am told she is a bit of a perfectionist and a stickler for detail.
idea of working part time as she really did not have the strength to work such long hours. Initially we thought that it was good for her to have something to do each day so we suggested that she ask her boss if she could work part-time......... She was sacked the next day when she asked if she could work reduced hours!
In some respect this was a blessing in disguise.
At first I racked my brain trying to think of what part time work Nguyen could do given how weak she was. It was then suggested that "work" would almost always produce some sort of stress. Not a good idea for such a very sick girl. Sherry, our inspirational volunteer ( more about her later) suggested that I could give Nguyen the option of studying instead of working. Great idea Sherry!!! I asked Nguyen what dreams she has for herself - “to study". Perfect! Nguyen was delighted and instantly grabbed at the opportunity to study English, a class that was immediatley offered to her.
Nguyen currently studies English every morning with one of our volunteers Robin,who is based in Vietnam for the next year. Robin has
LUONG, HANH & NGUYEN
The end of another workshop day.........Nguyen and all of the ladies have developed a strong friendship group.
reported that she is like a little sponge, soaking up every bit of knowledge. My eldest adopted son Tu, ferries Nguyen to class on his motorbike as she is too weak to ride her bicycle.
Nguyen is also involved in our disabled womens workshop. Again I was worried about Nguyen being bored so I invited her to come along and help with our womens group. This now occupies her afternoons. She now has a wonderful support group of women surrounding her and a creative stimulating environment everyday.
This seems to be a good combination of activities to help keep Nguyen's spirits up and to keep her intellectually stimulated.
Next problem to look at was her weight. She was like a fragile little bird, in part because she did not have enough money for food and hence had not been eating enough. Nguyen and I worked out a weekly menu of the best quality and most nutritious food. She is also having an Ensure equivalent to try to help build up her strength and immune system. Lifestart will now pay for all of her food, supplements and medication. Nguyen will live in Hoi An in a very tiny room
NGUYEN & GHI
Workshop is over for the day and Nguyen gets a ride home with Ghi.
with her sister, this will enable her to participate in English class, our womens workshop and life......
I believe that Nguyen and her mother know that she is dying, however the seriousness of her condition is not a subject that is to be discussed, I am told by her sister. I think that her mother would just cry for whatever time Nguyen has left and that would be such a negative environment for Nguyen to live in. It would appear easier not to discuss the inevitable.............
No, we can’t “save” everyone. But what does “save” mean anyway? We can’t add years to her life, but how about helping to add life to her years (I think that’s already a saying but I like it).
I know that many of our supporters like to contribute directly to someone who really needs help. Here is another one of those opportunities.
To provide Nguyen with a highly nutritious diet and her medication will cost $100 aud. per month. I am looking for 12 people to cover the next year of her life.
That is one month per person.
If you would you like to help Nguyen please
NGUYEN & ROBIN
Nguyen is pictured with her English teacher Robin from Australia. Robin teaches Nguyen every morning.
contact me via this blog or alternatively online donations can be made via the Lifestart website?
Lots of Love from Karen.
P.S. My last request for help was for Tung's three wheel motorbike. Thank you to all who have helped! We have raised enough for his motorbike to be built and one of our supporters is providing additional help by way of a monthly food allowance. An update blog will follow in the future.
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