Thursday, December 06, 2007

One step at a time

Over a year ago, Blue Dragon's social workers met the family of 5 year old Tan living on a boat moored to the island in the middle of the Red River.

This area is home to some of the poorest people in the city: rural families with no citizen registration, no jobs, and no money. It's common for them to also be illiterate and to have complex health problems.

Tan's family is facing the whole myriad of problems. His mother collects scrap on the streets, and his father is a 'xe om': a motorbike taxi driver. And to top it off, Tan has cerebral palsy.

When we first met him, he had undergone several operations on his legs to help straighten them: he was completely unable to walk because his legs were twisted under him. The operations helped, but then his family could not afford to pay for the physiotherapy that he needed to learn to use his legs.

From June until the end of November, Blue Dragon paid for Tan to visit a physiotherapist five days a week. His progress was visible, but still too slow. Because Tan's family lives on a boat, there was nowhere for him to practice walking. Our social workers encouraged the family to move into a house, which we were willing to rent for them, but their fear of change and of moving onto the land prevented them from taking up our offer.

So for the last few weeks, our social worker Phuong has been spending several hours a day with the little guy in our drop in center. We've borrowed a walking frame on wheels, which Tan can now use to speed around all over the place. And then they walk up and down the stairs, one step at a time, all the while Tan beaming from ear to ear.

Tan still has plenty more obstacles to overcome. It may be a long time before he can walk unaided; and he still needs further surgery on one of his eyes. We hope to enrol him in a kindergarten in coming weeks, too, so he gets his education off to a good start. Hanoi has some fantastic kindergartens and it would be a pity for him to miss out.

Tan is so determined and happy to be mobile, I can't see that anything will stop him now. I just hope he can keep up this amazing progress he is making.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic story and congratulations Michael and all the Blue Dragon staff. I saw Tan last week at the centre;he certainly is full of smiles and enjoying his walker and the stairs.Have told lots of my mates in Australia about him Let us know if you need help for kindergarten fees.

Fran Wyndham, Guyra, Australia