When I first met Quan early last year, he was living in a little shack, up in the hills a few hours outside of Hanoi.
As a young child he had been a very bright boy who loved school, reading and playing with his friends. When he became ill at age ten, complications set in and with no money for medical care or treatment the end result was that he slowly lost his sight. His family is very poor and his father has been incapacitated since suffering a stroke a few years ago, his mother does all she can to hold things together and to keep them fed and clothed. They are genuinely lovely people and while it was nice to spend time with them it was truly heartbreaking to think that this boy had sat here for years, and in all likelihood he would continue to just sit here.
Quans mother cried as she talked about her fears for him as she aged, Quan sat very quietly nearby and simply listened.
Back in Hanoi, Nam and I were on a mission! We had a list of schools for the Blind, Blind Associations, Blind Organisations and on and on. It was a piping hot June day and in between ice colas and mango smoothies we set off on Nams motorbike to talk to the powers that be.
Another complication was that Quan is not from Hanoi province, so technically he did not belong to any of the organisations. Eventually we met with the Vice Chairman of the Blind Association who proposed that we fund an entire class of ten and Quan could be included in that new course. We then went and told Quan and his mother that he could come to Hanoi for six months to learn to read & write Braille and to be trained as a professional massage therapist, if they agreed. They were both delighted and eager ..…. Quan very clearly announced “I want to read … and I want a life!”
I returned to Australia and told Quan’s story, we sold a whole lot of sausages and we gratefully accepted any and all donations, it didn’t take too long to get the funds together.
………………..and so Quan’s new life began.
Nam once again made the trek up the mountains, this time to collect Quan and bring him to his new life in Hanoi, which he took to like a duck to water, he absolutely thrived! He loved the fact that he could read again, he would carry Braille news articles under his arm so that he could have a quick read at any given opportunity (making up for lost time!) he loved living at the school and he made friends with his peers, he was coming right out of his shell.
When we returned to Hanoi in March Quan was a qualified massage therapist, complete with confidence, job and girlfriend! We spent a day together to take Quan back up to Tu Ly to visit his family. We were honestly amazed at the transformation that had taken place.
Quan returned to his hometown a very different person to the shy, withdrawn young man who had left 9 months previously. Even his mother was amazed at the change in him. His homecoming was quite an event in his village and he was loving it! He was confidently involved in every conversation, joking and teasing Rose, playing pat-a-cake, he really was a different person. At one point he turned to me and said
………‘Thank you so much, I am really happy with my new life!’........
Later, Rose and I were chatting about the amazing difference in his personality. We decided that the shy, withdrawn Quan was just a reflexion of his situation and the fun, confident, Quan was always in there, he just needed a hand to come out.
Quan’s story is everything that ACCV is and what we aspire to be.
This is exactly the sort of thing that your donations achieve, no matter how small, every donation contributes to changing these young lives.
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