by Ms. Huong Duong
In 1996, a traffic accident deprived me of my two legs. I woke up in a hospital bed, so sad, and thinking that from now on I would be immobile, capable of doing nothing.
Then one morning, Mr. Toan of VNAH visited me at my house. He took a careful look at my two stumps, and was decisive that I would be able to walk again. “You will be able to walk again”, he told me. “We will make good limbs for you”. After that, I was sent to Can Tho Prosthetics and Rehabilitation Center, where I was examined and treated by Dr. Nguyen Van Hung, the Director and John Eardman, a prosthetist of VNAH. After two months, I was able to toddle on the two new limps, just like a baby learning how to walk.
Having the artificial limbs, to me, was like a rebirth. I was feeling like walking out of the dark and desperation, into life again. From then, I was obsessed by the idea to reach out to other people who are more unfortunate and need help. “I was given a lot. Now it is time I have to give”, I thought. I come to blind children, meeting them, reading books for them, with a hope to make them more happy. I discovered that their need for knowledge is so vast, and the shortest, most effective way to help them access information is through talking books. I decided to set up a talking book library for the blind. This was risky since this model had never existed in Vietnam before, and the concept of “talking book” was very new. Once again I received great support for this new idea from VNAH.
In 1998, the first and only talking book library in Vietnam was established under the management of the Women’s Charity Association – WOCA/Ho Chi Minh City. Up to now, the library has produced and published more than 400 titles including literature, sciences, medical, text books from grade 1 to 12 and even college text books. It has provided 25,000 tapes to the blind, Blind Associations and schools in 40 provinces across the country. Up to now we have 10,000 tapes at the library. Thanks to the library’s products, thousands of blind children can access education. It is a great contribution to the success of the four first ever blind students of Vietnam to pass entrance exams to attend the University.
Good news travels fast. At the end of 2002, The Japanese Consulate provided $17,434 USD to help us build and purchase equipment for the recording recording studio. In May 2003, the library received another 10,000 USD funding from the World Bank Vietnam through its initiative of “Innovation Day” program.
Having an accident, losing two legs, receiving two artificial ones, and then starting reaching out to more unfortunate souls, I have proved the history-old maxim that no matter what and how life changes, keep walking, and change some others’ lives.
And I believe that is also what VNAH and its supporters are doing for the needy in Vietnam. I understand a small deed of help can make a big difference. A life will be changed, and thousands of other lives will be after that. I hope your programs continue to help millions of lives of the still unassisted people with disabilities for a better future.
And so we keep walking.