When we visited Thiep and her family for assessment earlier this year the first thing that was apparent was the appalling living conditions: their small house was made from rusty corrugated iron and pieces of wood they had collected from various places, a dirt floor and one bed between the family. The family assets consist of two rusty old pushbikes, a rotten wooden cupboard and a bed. Our visit came at breakfast time, where we witnessed the family sit for a bowl of plain rice. Despite working long days and nights fishing and laboring, Nguyen Thi Thiep’s parents are fighting a losing battle to support their children.
However, what makes Nguyen Thi Thiep’s family story truly tragic is the fact that, on top of the financial struggle that they face every day, Thiep had a heart condition. Persistent Truncus Arterious trunk (PCA) is a potentially fatal, but curable heart condition that caused severe coughing, shortness of breath, fever and fainting. Even if their oldest child, who was forced to leave school at 15 to work as a lottery-peddle, where he earns 10,000VND (0,6 USD) per day to support his family.
The family’s income is as follows: the father works his small plot of 500 square meters, which yields a harvest too trivial to feed the five mouths for very long. He therefore also works during the day as hired labor when work is available, earning about 25,000VND (1,56 USD) for one days work, and he and his wife fish at night to provide food for his family. The fishing is unpredictable, and the boat they own is far too small to face the open ocean so they fish in a lake near their house. Sometimes they can catch enough fish to feed the whole family in one day, but sometimes they come back with nothing. If ever they catch more than enough fish for the family they will sell them at the local markets for extra money. This combined income is barely adequate for everyday living expenses.
The cost of the operation that Nguyen needed was 10,000,000 VND, clearly beyond the family’s combined ability to raise, as their estimated gross annual income is 4,290,000 VND. It was through the generous support of donors that enabled Nguyen Thi Thiep to receive life-saving surgery, giving her a second chance at a life many of us take for granted, and sparing her family the pain of losing a child. Accordingly, we would like to express our deep gratitude to our donors who have devoted so much valuable time, effort and financial support to bring about confidence and happiness for disabled children such as Nguyen Thi Thiep, and their families.