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Phonsavan Say (Lao)

Servere Ill


I arrived in Sai Gon as scheduled. The city was warm, dry, hectic and energetic. City life was comfortable. I kept up well with the city pace and enjoyed myself a lot. SaiGon nights were colorful with lights and busy streets.

Leaving SaiGon for Hue by air, I found the weather there obviously milder. The playful days in SaiGon being over, I started our annual work schedule. First, I visited families of poor and severely ill patients. Funding for each patient was given in kind, as our gifts to the compatriots. Whenever giving a small sum to a poor friend, I have mixed feelings of bitterness, happiness and compassion. If only our arms were broader to embrace all our anguished friends, and all creatures.

I love animals, especially little dogs. On a windy afternoon, by the back gate of the hospital, I saw a curly, white dog that was industriously looking for food for his (her?) dinner on the dirty pavement. Her white hair in fact had turned to the colour of soil, since nobody washed her. Her image made me miss my little Lac miserably. Lac is my little pet, and also my beloved little daughter. Little Lac gives me boundless, unconditional love. Whenever I am away and phone home to talk to Minh, my husband, I ask “Little Lac and Minh, who loves Dieu Lien more?” Minh replies without thinking: “Little Lac.”  Surely Little Lac does, because nobody dares to compare their love with hers for Dieu Lien!!!

I observed the curly dog while waiting for Mr. Tho to guide nun Phuoc Thien and me to the Department of Orthopedics, Burns and Plastic Surgery. Feeling so bad for the little curly dog, I bought her two boiled eggs. She ate them with such great pleasure that all passers-by burst into laughter.

We then visited Hoang Khanh Toan in the Burns Department. Khanh Toan’s father was killed in a car accident in February 2006. After his father’s death, Toan had to study and work at the same time as an iron window blacksmith to earn a living for his whole family and pay for schooling for his brother and sister. Unfortunately, 4 months later he himself had a car accident in which his right leg was broken. His mother brought him to hospital with an empty wallet. She asked for help from all of their acquaintances to pay for his initial treatment, which was to rearrange the broken pieces of bone. At the doctors’ request, he was brought home while waiting for re-hospitalization to have his broken bones screwed together.

At his second hospitalisation, Toan himself wrote twice to his doctor:   doctor Pham Dang Nhat, Director of The Department of Orthopedics, Burns and Plastic Surgery, to ask for his broken leg to be amputated. When I asked why he thought of having his leg amputated, he said “if cut off, my leg will be replaced by a fake one. With a fake leg I can still work; whereas a prolonged treatment would be very costly.  My family does not have money, so if my treatment continued, my mother would have to borrow more.” Both of his letters were turned down by doctor Pham Dang Nhat. The doctor was patiently waiting for a charity source.

Then the miracle came. Mr. Tho, who was told by the nurses about Toan’s miserable plight, frequently visited and encouraged him. When he learnt about Toan’s leg amputation applications, he asked to take them back and tear them up. He tore them up to completely remove Toan’s pessimism and hopelessness. Tho promised to find ways out for Toan.

Doctor Nhat was the same kind-hearted doctor who had rejected amputating the leg of Tran Thi Phuong, the patient we helped last year, when she was so desperate because of her broken legs from an accident (please see the article below).

Seeing Toan’s sense of responsibility for his family as well as his family’s dead-end, I came to his bed and guided him in writing a letter calling for help from kind-hearted people. I embraced him closely and warmly for a long time. I told him: “I love you very much. If you love me, make an effort! Don’t give up. Everybody will join you to heal your broken leg.”  Toan was moved by my words. He leant on me closely as his emerging hope, a way out for his broken leg.

EOCVN would like to send this story and Toan’s letter to you, hoping that you will give assistance to Toan as you did previously to Tran Thi Phuong. If so, we will not only help out a person in need, but also create conditions for a whole family to rebuild their life.

Perhaps because doctor Nhat does not want to disappoint the patient, he has not revealed to Toan’s family the cost of his future treatment. I have not yet met Doctor Nhat, who is away on business.

After sending this letter, I will offer relief in Phan Thiet, which was recently stricken by the Durian storm. I will go with nun Nhu Minh and some other Buddhists. Stories will be sent to you soon.

Wishing you endless happiness,

Ton Nu Dieu Lien

Manh Kieu is suffered from severe malnutrition

Waiting for surgery at St. Paul hospital - Ha Noi

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Name of child: Kieu thi Manh

Child’s father:  Kieu Tan, born 1967, poor family, construction worker.

Child’s mother:  Tran thi Tu, born 1965, no profession.

Address: Unit # 2, Section #2, Thanh-Ha sub-district, HoiAn city, Quang Nam province.

Manh has 2 sisters, Kieu thi Ly and Kieu thi Thuy, 15 and 13 respectively.

The mother confided in me: “Some people have advised me not to raise the child and to go to work to raise the other two older ones.  However, she is still my child and I cannot abandon her.  Whatever happens happens!”…

We did not know what to do, but Jackie, Robyn, the two volunteers working with orphaned and handicapped children in HoiAn city, and I took Manh to Danang city for a preliminary examination. At first we thought we could not do anything for her because some doctors at the hospital had refused to treat her by the installation of a shunt in the brain, a medical device which regulates the volume of water in the brain.

She overcame the serious surgery at St. Paul hospital - Ha Noi city

As long as there is still hope, one needs to push forward. Manh’s family still wanted to have treatment for her and everybody made efforts in all directions to see if there was anything that could be done?!  By chance, we were able to contact Do van Du, a technician specializing in helping doctors install shunts in patients with hydrocephalus.  He was in Hanoi and he was very eager to help.  On March 14, 2005, we decided to take the child to Hanoi for examination and diagnostic by Professor Bai, a specialist physician at St Paul Hospital, Hanoi.  The professor has examined Manh and has decided to operate on her…Moreover there are good chances that the child would be able to recover from the illness. This was very good news to the family.

The operating expenses, hospital expenses, extra nutrition for Manh, room and board, totaled about US$250.  I have managed to borrow temporarily from the volunteers in HoiAn to meet the immediate needs of the situation.  At this time, Manh is in St Paul Hospital, waiting for surgery.

I am sending this letter to you in the hope that you would be able to send it to our benefactors to obtain assistance for Kieu Thi Manh and her family.

Best wishes for peace.

Yours respectfully,

Kinh Nguyen - 2005

Questions about how
you can help or suggesion about our website, please  email

Eyes of Compassion