Friday, February 26, 2010

You can’t measure the magic of a smile....

I’d like to introduce you to Quy. He is one of the young blind students in our English language course. He’s a terrific young guy, and he has a smile that can really light up a room. But that wasn’t always the case.

We first met Quy last April when he came to join us in Hanoi from a fairly remote community. He was quite shy and withdrawn so we had very little to do with him. Things had changed by the time we returned in September. He was all settled, he’d made some great friends and he’d really come out of his shell. Quy was quite chatty and loved the karaoke. At one point he burst out laughing – and we were mortified!!

Quy’s front teeth were truly rotten, missing and broken, some of them snapped off at the gum. In reflex I turned to Toan and said “we need to fix his teeth”. The teachers thought this was a great idea as he was having so much difficulty learning to speak in English. As an English teacher myself I wondered how he could possibly produce those sounds that require the presence of our upper front teeth. Anything that begins with ‘L’ ‘T’ ‘Th’ etc..  

“yup, we need to fix his teeth”

Once again we were on a mission.

I put out an email to our great support network in Vietnam. Once again, it didn’t take long to get a response. Our good friend Linda provided us with the name and contact details of a dentist who she thought might help. Linda is an absolute wealth of information (a lot of which can be found on this fabulous website all about Hanoi and she’s always happy to share.

Toan then picked up the batton and made contact with Dr Quang Duy Pham. Dr Quang not only agreed to treat Quy but very kindly gave us a substantial discount on the treatment.

Quy was so excited at the prospect of having his teeth fixed. There was never a complaint, only gratitude as he went for numerous dental visits and treatments. Toan did a great job, he was such a dedicated carer as he organized and ferried Quy back and forth to all appointments.  Treatment was soon complete and Toan let me know it was a success, everyone was happy. Great!

On our recent return to Hanoi, we were having fun at the Blind Association when I heard a voice behind me… “Hello Ba Alison, thank you for my teeth!”.   I can  honestly say I was not prepared for what I saw. The transformation that has taken place in Quy is wonderful. Before me stood a very confident, handsome young guy with a huge, million dollar smile!

I was speechless, I eventually muttered ‘Quy… wow!.... look at you!!” the students laughed and lots of fun, friendly banter flew, all of them talking about how handsome  he is now. Quy was beaming.

It was so lovely to see that his friends were genuinely celebrating his good fortune. Obviously you don’t need to see a beautiful smile to feel it’s magic.

I asked Quy what his mother thought of his handsome new smile. He replied. “Oh, she doesn’t know anything about it yet, it is her special gift when I return to visit my family”.

So many gifts just keep on giving. It’s not hard to imagine what a gift this will be to Quy’s mother and the rest of his family. 
Your kind donations are changing lives.

Thank you so much for your support.

Kind regards 
Alison & Rose

(please drop us a quick email so we can acknowledge your kindness)


Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Year of the Tiger - Chuc Mung Nam Moi!........

This weekend celebrates the Lunar New Year. Tomorrow, the year of the Tiger begins.

Also known as Tết, Lunar New Year  is a very special celebration throughout Vietnam and there are a lot of traditional customs to be followed.  New Year's greetings, lucky money in red envelopes ,  Kumquat trees , Chung cakes or gift baskets.  Once again we are so fortunate to have Brian, Dat and Toan on hand to make sure ACCV runs smoothly and does the right thing.
ACCV was very well represented by Dat and Toan, they proudly delivered Tet gifts to the different people we support. They both thoroughly enjoyed their Santa-like role and as you can see the gifts were very gratefully received.

 Little Tuan enjoyed was thrilled with a box of choco pies and a lucky money envelope along with 5kg of rice for he and his grandmother.

The lovely children of Friendship Home where thrilled to receive a lucky envelope and a traditional Chung Cake each – let’s hope they really are symbols of good fortune for them.

Hien was very happy to receive envelopes and Choco pies  for the family, and a special bottle of Orange soda  for her very ill brother Ha. 

Our language class at the Blind Association had an early finish to mark the occasion. Gift basket, lucky envelopes and Choco pies were the order of the day for a bit of a classroom Tet celebration! 

We wish you all the very best for the year of the Tiger!

Kind regards
Alison & Rose

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

H.I.T.S..... so much more than entertainment.

An enormous thank you from ACCV to Hanoi International Theatre Society for their amazing support and donation to ACCV. 

As previously posted H.I.T.S. named ACCV as the charity recipient of all proceeds from their production of Beauty and the Beast. This FANTASTIC contribution will mean that a group of terrific young blind people will now receive the further training they need to become IT teachers. This will of course have a ripple effect on the entire blind community, because young ones will have the opportunity to learn IT skills from well trained and qualified IT teachers.

H.I.T.S.really are a community based theatre group!

Kind regards
Alison & Rose

Friday, February 5, 2010

Healing hands and a funny afternoon……..

It has been a couple of years now since Quan graduated as a massage therapist. He really enjoys his work. Massage has provided him with so much more than just an income. It has given him a support network, a social life, the pride that comes with being so good at what you do that clients request you in particular. It has also relieved the pain in his young arthritic hands. In many ways massage has been quite a gift to Quan.

Recently, it was a gift to me too…

I was fortunate enough to receive a head massage from Quan. It was an absolute treat, he really is very good at what he does.  This quiet time together afforded us a rare opportunity to catch up a little. We had a nice chat as he worked away.   

Quan asked me if I remembered him from his ‘before life’.  I smiled and said I did, and I asked him if he missed that life. His response was a hearty chuckle and a very clear "No", he then spoke of how much he loves his "now life".

He went on to tell me how he and his mother remember the ‘very funny afternoon’,  when Mr Jim appeared at his house with a woman.  Visits to Quan’s rural village are always unannounced as there is no communication available. He said on that day they were very surprised and after we left they talked about how funny it was and how he and his mother hoped that we would help him to change his situation and to improve his life.  Well, things have certainly changed.  We chatted on about his new life and his plans to continue with his studies and professional development.

It was such an interesting experience, his large hands, swollen with nodules that are a legacy of the same illness that caused his blindness, are surprisingly strong.   At one point I noticed that the strong, professional hands of a masseuse left the muscles of my head and they very gently traced the contours of my face, ….  “aaah, so that’s what she looks like!”
Yes, things have certainly changed, I also remember how, on that same funny afternoon Mr Jim gave Quan a supply of medicines to relieve the pain in his hands.  Those very same hands are now pain free tools that provide his livelihood, and offer therapeutic relief to his fortunate clients.
Massage offers an excellent employment opportunity for many young blind people. Quan is certainly not the only person to benefit from studying massage. 

And I'm not the only person to enjoy the benefits of receiving an excellent head massage. 

 Kind regards
Alison & Rose