New faces at the Foyer

Hoai Thanh

Nguyen Hoai Thanh was born in 1994 in a poor home. Since his early childhood, he had not been given neither affection nor protection by his family. By the age of 8, he had often witnessed his parents arguing and they finally got to divorce.He, fortunately, still had a sister, Truc, who was 6 years older than him. He nevertheless missed his mother painfully.

After the divorce, Thanh lived with his father for a while, and then moved to his mother’s family along with his sister. The two siblings were not welcome in this new family though and eventually decided to go and live with another aunt of theirs who had several children of her own.

The aunt was poor. She made a living by selling vegetables in the market. All the family slept at the market place at night. In 2006, the market was finally closed and they all moved to a slum on the riverbank in Saigon, with just a plastic sheet over their head to protect them from the rain, and walls made of plastic and cardboard that they had collected. Nine people had to share a 15m2 space.Thanh and Truc had to fend for themselves to survive.

In 2010 Thanh had a severe accident which left him with a broken neck and he became quadriplegic. He was hospitalized. Truc had then to do any job she could to pay the hospital fees: she worked as an assistant bricklayer, a garbage collector, she picked up plastic bags on the street, washed the dishes, drove motorbikes… Thanh was completely paralyzed and totally dependent on his sister. She helped him rebuilding his morale.

Thanh then spent 6 months in hospital and gradually recovered partial use of his upper limbs through physiotherapy provided by his sister. It was time for him to leave the hospital, and Truc was wondering if they had any place to go… Through collective solidarity, Maison Chance finally welcomed Thanh in August 2012.

Three months after he first joined our large family, where he has met some people sharing his condition, he has started to become more independent and less self-conscious, more sociable and daring, despite his major disability. He has also started an IT training course and now goes every day to Centre Envol to complete his professional education.

Thanh can now smile again, for his life has a new meaning!

Y Nam

Nam is the third child among ten siblings. She belongs to the Ba Na people. She was born in a remote area of the Dak Ha district, in the Kon Tum province. Her family is very poor and both her parents are illiterate. Their work as farmers is barely enough to ensure their survival. When Y Nam was in Year 7, her family sent her to an orphanage led by sisters, so that she could attend school.

In September 2011, the bunk bed on which she was resting collapsed and Y Nam fell to the ground. It was believed at the time she was uninjured. But 4 months later, she started experiencing some coldness in her feet and hands and it was getting harder for her to move. The insignificant accident changed the life of this young, smart and sociable girl. Y Nam has now to face considerable difficulties on her wheelchair.

After the accident, trials came in succession for her. The illness was developing, her legs were getting weaker and she soon couldn’t walk properly. She had to crawl on the floor to reach the toilets or the kitchen.In January 2012, her condition worsened. Her legs and whole body were stiff. She was unable to speak and could hardly breathe. The sisters asked her family to take her to the Kon Tum hospital.

Y Nam there suffered from bedsores that gave her acute pain. Her sensitivity was gone and she had difficulties urinating.

At this stage, Y Nam received help from the director of a company that offers a program to the disadvantaged. She then was transferred to the hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. After months of hospitalization, the doctors came to the conclusion that she was suffering from a spinal cord inflammation which obliged her to stay on a wheelchair.

It was then that Y Nam first heard about Maison Chance.

In October 2012, Y Nam was the first person from an ethnic minority to stay at Maison Chance. After a short adjustment period, she started to smile again. The friendly atmosphere of the place keeps her optimistic: she’s going to recover and a new future awaits her.

December 2012