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