Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Tale of Two Kids: Ha and Quan

The first Project Vietnam Medical Mission to Hoa Binh was completed in 2001, and the experience was so successful that a follow-up mission was provided in 2002. That second mission was marked by the tragic loss of Surgery Team member Dr. John O'Connor.

One of the children receiving free surgery in 2001 was a 10-year old boy named Ha, who returned to his rural home with a repaired cleft lip and was soon offered a position in a class for advanced students. Ha's family could not afford the extra educational expense, so Project Vietnam provided funds for Ha's schooling. We've been supporting Ha and his family ever since, and this year we also provided Ha with further cosmetic surgery in Hanoi, performed by Dr. Ke, a member of the team that operated on Ha in 2001. Ha is doing extremely well and is planning to attend a University in Hanoi when he finishes high school.

We met another child in Hoa Binh during that time, and his story did not turn out so well. Quan is a teenager who has lost most of his eyesight due to complications from untreated rheumatoid arthritis. Project Vietnam eye surgeons examined Quan thoroughly, but were unable to offer a solution as the disease had progressed too far. Quan lives in a dirt-floor home with his mother and father, who had a stroke a few years ago and is unable to contribute much toward the family's support. Obviously, Quan could not step into that role, so it has been left to the mother to provide for everyone. We have been providing this very needy family with a small stipend, delivered directly to Quan's mother twice a year.

Last year I brought Ha from Kim Boi to Tu Ly to meet Quan, and Ha told Quan about his cleft lip surgery. Quan shared his own story, then said to Ha, "You are lucky."

These are just a few examples of the ways in which Project Vietnam volunteers can offer individual assistance and follow-up for some of the children we encounter. Each year we meet many more who are in need. Please consider a small donation earmarked for this aspect of our work. Ha is still in need of further surgery to straighten his nose, and of course Quan's family is in desperate need of continued support, and many other children and families would benefit as well.

Displyed here are some photographs of Ha and Quan, and of the surrounding natural beauty of their home areas.

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