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Every autumn, as soon as the leaves turned yellow, Tim would travel to Canada. In the past three years the colors appeared right on schedule, but Tim stayed home. There were a variety of reasons, work pressure and health issues among them.

This year Tim’s health improved and she came, armed with a new and ambitious dream: building the Đắk Nông Center in Krông Nô, a rural district in the Central Highlands region of Vietnam. Tim presented the project at all three donor meetings she held in Canada – one in Toronto, on September 23, and two in Montréal on September 25 and 27 respectively.

Like Maison Chance, Đắk Nông Center would help the disadvantaged integrate into society. Most of the street children and orphans who landed at Maison Chance have achieved that goal. Thanks to the training they received, they managed to find steady employment. Đắk Nông would essentially be an extension of Maison Chance. Its goals are twofold.

First, it would provide ongoing, long-term support to the aging beneficiaries with severe disabilities as well as individuals who are still struggling to fit into urban life. Mainly hailing from rural areas, they long for a simpler life, a life with less competition and no anxiety about having to “take off,” which would be impossible for them in any case.

Secondly, Đắk Nông would be a refuge for even needier ethnic minorities who live in this remote area of Vietnam and have not yet received any meaningful support. The Center would benefit from the 20 years’ worth of experience acquired at Maison Chance, and apply the same concept of community living for people of different age groups with physical and mental disabilities.
The specific objectives are:

– Giving orphans and disabled men and women a roof over their heads

– Helping these residents recover their health by adapted medical intervention, preventive measures and a number of different rehabilitative therapies.

– Help the beneficiaries to reintegrate into society by means of education and vocational training.

– Train families how to care for people with disabilities and facilitate their reintegration into the family.

For more details, visit: http://www.maison-chance.org/maison-chance/dak-nong/introduction/.

Though we’ve all heard Tim’s story many times since she first came to Montréal in 2008 in addition to reading about it and watching her videos countless times on the Internet, everyone is still deeply touched by her heartfelt generosity. Her single goal in life is to help the helpless – orphans, the homeless, individuals with disabilities whether at birth or after an accident, under-privileged children – and in the process give them unconditional love.

Meeting Tim was an inspiration – you instinctively felt that you hadn’t done quite enough and needed to do more. Returning home after the meeting, one donor called to make an extra pledge. A volunteer, who was in charge of the donation box, became emotional each time someone added more money . . . to round out the amount. She told Tim: “You’ve got such a big heart. It shows in the way you embrace those untouchably dirty kids. And you do it with such genuine love and patience, even when the same kids behave so badly. That’s why I support you with all my heart.”

It was that kind of personal connection that encouraged another supporter to try to see Tim one more time – however briefly – just so he could give her a final goodbye hug and wish her a safe journey. The meeting took place at a gas station as Tim was heading for the airport. And then there was the little boy who had rehearsed a question at home that he eagerly wished to ask Tim: “Why do so many kids have to go hungry all the time?” It was the kind of thing that reminded you of the homeless boy named Glyzelle Palomar, who had approached Pope Francis during the papal visit to the Philippines in January 2015: “Why won’t people help us?” he said, before bursting into tears.

These questions have no easy answers.

Tim returned to Montréal this year with a heavy heart, still mourning the death of her father, Laurent. He was killed in a motorcycle accident on December 10, 2015 on his way home from a session with his gospel music group. He left at 11:40 p.m. and the accident occurred at 11:53 p.m. The clock in his house stopped at the very same time. He’d supported Maison Chance throughout the early stages by overseeing the administrative side of things: contracts, consultations, activity programs, and so on. It was a devastating loss for Tim, for Maison Chance, and all those who had known him.

Tim could not hold back the tears as she recalled her beloved dad. And yet she apologized for crying in her donors’ presence and appearing “too weak.”

Her visit to Montréal was all too brief and time was always pressing. October 5 saw her and Laetitia Hallyday in Đắk Nông to discuss and work on plans to build a school for poor students in the region. On October 7, she left for Switzerland and the annual fund-raising gala in Geneva, scheduled for October 22, 2016.

Tim promised to come back to Montréal next year to request continued support for the Đắk Nông project. It will take up to a year and a half to finish construction work, so her Canadian “back and forth” will go on for some time to come.

image-01Why do so many kids have to go hungry all the time? image-02Why won’t people help us?
image-05At Shodan Restaurant, Montréal image-06At Blue Lagoon Restaurant, Toronto
image-04Outside Marie-Reine-des-Cœurs Church, Montréal

Post: Nguyễn Thị Oanh

Montréal, early autumn 2016