Nguyen Duc Tuan, a young disabled who had been abandoned by his family tell us his story. When I was 11 months old, my parents divorced and I went to live with my grand-parents.

At thirteen years old, I quit school because my grand-parents were too poor to pay for my schooling. From there on, I lived mainly on the street, and I became a street kid. I went to Saigon to find a job and I learned mechanics. I found a job but I was not very lucky. While I was working on a construction site, I fell down a scaffold and broke my spinal column.

My employer gave me 14,000,000 dong (about $US 900) as a compensation. I went to the hospital to get treatment and that money was rapidly used up. I had nobody to help me at that time and I called my parents for help. When my mother got the news, she went to the hospital and took care of me for 7 days while waiting for my father to come. He only stayed for 3 days and also left me. At that time, I really wanted to die. After 21 days, I had no more money and had to leave the hospital despite that I had still not recovered from my accident.

Tuan

Fortunately, a Japanese woman helped me get to a physical reeducation center for physiotherapy. A retired doctor offered me shelter in Tay Ninh. At that point, I realized that I would never walk again. Since I spent most of the time seating, I developed really bad bedsores.

However I did not have the means to get treatment. Luckily, the Japanese lady came back to Vietnam and found me. She took me back to Saigon for hospitalization. But the hospital refused to take me since I still owed them money from my previous hospitalization. The Japanese lady then convinced the hospital to take me in but she could not take care of me on the long-term. While at the hospital, I heard about Maison Chance.

I applied for admission to Maison Chance and I met with Tim. She listened to me carefully and she accepted me. At Maison Chance, I was treated for my bedsores and I discussed with other disabled like myself. This has given me the courage to continue living. Then I took a painting course. Since I arrived at Maison Chance, I call Tim “mother Tim”. She is a foreigner but she took care of us like her brothers or sisters, or her children. She has given all her time and her life to help the disabled and orphans in Vietnam.Since Maison Chance has become too small to accept other disabled like myself, mother Tim went abroad to seek financial help to build the Take Wing Center.

The Take Wing Center is a vocational training center for handicapped as well as a school for the under-privileged children in the neighborhood. That’s not all. Mother Tim worries about the living conditions of those who work at the Take Wing Center and who do not have disability-adapted housing. For those people, she has envisioned the Village Chance project, a village to be built according to the needs of the handicapped. We will be able soon to rent functional accommodations at a reasonable price. I was thinking about my parents while writing these lines and I started to cry. My parents left me and did not even worry about if I was dead or alive.

Whereas Tim, a foreigner, has opened her arms and accepted me, and has helped me learn skills from which I can depend on to make a living. With all my heart, I thank her and all those, in foreign countries, who are helping her and Maison Chance.

Nguyen Duc Tuan