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Published: November 30th 2011
MAI AND HER DENIM BAGS
Mai proudly display's her denim bags.
When Mai was only three years old, she lost the use of her left leg. Mai still is not completely sure of the reasons why, but she does know that her father was a soldier in the American War and was present when Agent Orange was sprayed. Mai describes herself as being born “sick on the inside”. When she was three she became ill and the doctor came to her parent’s house and gave her an injection in her left leg. After the injection was administered, Mai’s left leg contracted and started to curl up and since then she has had no feeling in it and is unable to walk on it.
You would not know the hardships Mai has had to endure though her life to look at her beautiful, smiling face. Sitting at the table with the other ladies at the Lifestart Foundation Workshop
, sewing her denim bags, Mai appears care-free and happy. Born in Hoi An in 1969, Mai spent from age three to 12 on her hands and right knee and relying on her school friends for assisted transport. When she was 12 her parents were able to afford her first crutch. When she was 19 her parents
MAI AT THE WORKSHOP
Mai working on her Lifestart Foundation products in the Workshop
sold nearly everything they owned to raise the money to pay for an unsuccessful leg operation, leaving Mai with huge scars on the back of her knee and leg. She now lives with her elderly father since her mother recently passed away.
Mai joined the Lifestart Foundation Workshop in April 2009. Her life has changed dramatically since then. Lifestart Foundation has provided Mai with a three-wheel motorbike and Mai has been earning an income at the Lifestart Workshop making fabulous denim bags
and silk cushion covers
. When asked if Mai is happier now, as part of the Lifestart Foundation family at the Workshop, Mai does not hesitate - an enthusiastic, smiling “yes” is the reply! She has been having English lessons with our volunteer English teacher Ruth
and loves to meet visitors to the workshop and to practice her English with them. The money she has been earning through the sales of her denim bags has gone a long way to securing her future financial stability. She has also recently started making beautiful silk cushion covers which are available on our Etsy online store.
We have recently entered into a philanthropic partnership with Spotlight stores through their “Stitch in Time”
Project. Spotlight is a chain of
Australia's largest fabric, craft & home interior superstores. Spotlight
have donated sewing machines to be used by recipients of the Lifestart Foundation workshop and have committed to giving us regular orders for fair trade fabric shopping bags which they will sell in their stores. Mai is part of the Spotlight team at the Lifestart Foundation Workshop who will be making these bags. She is very excited about this opportunity and the potential of a long-term sustainable income from this project. All the profits from the sales will go to disadvantaged women from the workshop who make the bags and also provide some financial support for Lifestart Foundations work in Hoi An.
Those of you who read the update letter I sent out at the end of November will know that we will be opening the Lifestart Foundation Disability Community Centre in Hoi An on the 9th of December 2011. During the medical scoping study with an expert team from Australia, Mai was identified as a potential candidate for corrective surgery which will enable her to place both feet on the ground for the first time since she was three years of age. When she was told that this may
SILK CUSHION COVERS
Mai's beautiful Silk Cushion Covers
be a possibility by the orthpeadic surgeon from Australia she wept. We hope to make this possibiliy a reality in 2012 for Mai. If you are interested in supporting this surgery please get in touch with me
Mai hopes that the Lifestart Foundation Workshop
will continue to go from strength to strength, getting bigger and bigger with more and more people getting involved. Mai feels it has helped her so much and has the potential to empower so many more disabled women through the creation of financial independence and the making of a strong social network.
Contributions towards Mai's blog & photography by Fiona Jones.
For those of you who are little techno challenged like myself if you click on any of the words in blue it will automatically link you into that subject.
Lots of Love from Karen www.lifestartfoundation.org.au
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Visit us at:
LIFESTART FOUNDATION WORKSHOP
77 Phan Chu Trinh Street,
Please see below for the stories of some of the other makers at the Lifestart Foundation Workshop. Nhung's Story
MOBILITY Mai - An Aspiring Artist Vinh - A New Member at the Workshop Hai & Truong - Lantern Makers Miss Nguyen's Heart Warming Update
Mai pictured with her new three wheel motor bike.
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