From a Homeless Child to a College Student in the USA

My name is Ly Thi Bich Tram. This year I am nineteen years old and began a new phase of my life…! I was born in a poor family in the countryside. My parents had four girls and I am the second oldest. My father worked as a laborer; my mother, who was illiterate, stayed home taking care of the house and children. Because my father was the sole provider, we barely had enough to live on. When I was six years old, misfortune struck our family.

Trâm and Tim hugged each other before departing

My father sustained a spinal injury that paralyzed half of his body; at that time, my youngest sister was not quite one month old. My father was hospitalized. Because there was no money to pay for hospital expenses, we had to sell our house. We became homeless and felt hopeless. Fortunately, we met Mother Tim when she visited patients in the hospital where my father was treated. After learning about our situation, she took my family to Maison Chance to live with other disabled people and orphans.

Mother Tim is both a father and a mother to us. She takes care of all our needs, from food to shelter. My sisters and I were able to start school and at this point in time, my mother left us, leaving the burden of caring for us on Mother Tim’s shoulders. Although my biological mother abandoned us, Mother Tim’s love and care helped us to overcome our pain of being unwanted and unloved. We grew up every day in the loving hands of Mother Tim at the Maison Chance.

My oldest sister, Giau, got married in March 2009. Giau works as a hairdresser, a vocation that Mother Tim sent her to school for. My next younger sister, Tuyen, is a high school student, ready to be promoted to the 11th grade. Uyen, my youngest sister, is preparing to go to 9th grade. My father is wheelchair-bound and still lives at Maison Chance because of his poor health and need for medical care. He assists Mother Tim in managing the computer room.

From the day my biological mother left her four children, Mother Tim has been our second mother, caring for us and teaching us how to become good people. Maison Chance is a heart and home for our family and other unlucky people, built by a young mother, always thinking of other people’s happiness before her own….a wonderful mother… our Mother Tim!

Not long ago I was a little girl. Time flies by, and now having lived at Maison Chance for 13 years, I have grown up. Today, I am an overseas college student in Texas, USA. I did not dare to dream or think of going overseas to study before. When Mother Tim informed me that the officers of Maison Chance USA were granting me a scholarship to study in the US with the agreement that I will go back and help the Maison Chance in the future, I could not help being touched and happy. I could not believe how fortunate I was. I would be able to realize my dream and pay back Mother Tim and at the same time help those who are less fortunate at Maison Chance where I grew up.

Tram in the Us

With the help of the members of Maison Chance USA, I obtained a visa and began a new journey to the USA. On the day I departed, Mother Tim and I hugged each other and cried. The tears of my friends at Maison Chance as well as the tears of my disabled father in his wheelchair motivated me to promise myself that I will try hard not to disappoint Mother Tim and those who care about me. I have been in the US for two months now. At first, I could not help but feeling homesick and out of place. I have had a lot of help from the members of Maison Chance USA, especially from Mrs. Hoa, President of Maison Chance USA, and owner of the house where I live while going to school. She has helped me in everything, from finding a school, to helping me applying for a visa, means of transport and providing daily meals….she takes care of everything. Of course, all of this would be impossible without the help of Mr. Binh, Mrs. Hoa’s husband. I have Mother Tim in Vietnam and Mother Hoa in the US. I think I am very lucky. I have found and seen many differences between the life in the US and Vietnam; from the means of transport to everything else. It is tranquil, not noisy like in Vietnam. I hope that I will learn many new and useful things during my stay here so that I could help Maison Chance more effectively. I promise I will come back to Maison Chance one day.

Bich Tram