Caritas Vietnam: Sharing New Year Gifts With People With disabilities From American Wheelchair Mission
In recent years, when it is the time for Christmas season and the New Year, as a meeting place, AWM and the benefactors from the United States came to visit the disabled ones of Vietnam. This year from January 3 - 11, 2020, a group of 23 Americans (five from AWM and 18 from Arkansas State) visited the disabled people in the Archdiocese of Hanoi.
Sister Teresa Nguyen Thi Hoang Mai, Sr. Mary Nguyen Thi Quynh Tam, members of Caritas Vietnam, Sr. Maria Bui Thi Hue - Caritas Hanoi accompanied five members of AWM namely, Christopher Joseph Lewis - AWM president, Mr. Troy Allan Chesnut, Mr. Randy Vincent Hale, Mr. Jeffrey Jay Robertson and Ms. Tatiana Katterine Lewis and 18 benefactors from Arkansas State. The group visited some poor families having people with severe disabilities, a few disability centers, and some parishes to distribute wheelchairs for them with the hope of relieving the burdens of the one to take care of them, changing the lives of people with disabilities, helping them with mobility, and doing some light works.
In the first two days (January 3 - 4) AWM Association visited and gave wheelchairs to people with disabilities in Ha Trang and Gia Trang Parish as well as some families with disabilities. Since the economy is growing up and the country is open, the poor households will be reduced to the margin. People with disabilities will be entitled to basic rights and they will gain some insight into their life stories and their desire to integrate into the community will be strengthened, though their mental stigma still be there.
Trần Văn Mạnh (name changed ) at Hà Trang Parish
Tran Van Mạnh, was bon in 1990 year old, met with an accident during construction work at the age of 21. He broke his neck and got paralyzed his limbs. He didn't get any insurance or support from the contractor. So all the hardships were piled up on him and his family. With a tall and heavy body, he could not walk anymore. His mother could not carry him or help him to do his basic needs. His father was advanced in age so he too couldn’t help him.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Tho, 1996, she met with a traffic accident at the age of 13 on the way to school.
Mr. Nguyen Van Tú also had a traffic accident. But his living atmosphere is very poor. He had a wife and children but they left him and he has been living alone. So He has to depend on his sister for his daily sustenance. Any one entering his room and seeing him makes them feel very sorry for him. Because he could not walk so everything in the room was exposed so that it is easy for him to take it. He also has to try to cook by himself. Since the room is not cleaned, mosquitoes and flies are plenty everywhere.
Mr. Nguyễn Văn Tú (name changed)
Pham Thi Nhung was bon in 1932 lives with her single daughter. She received a wheel chair and expressed her indebtedness to the priest and the group. From now on, she has this wheelchair to go around and especially she can use it for going to the Church.
Bà Phạm Thị Nhung (name changed)
Nguyen Thanh Tung, 33 years old, was defective at birth. His father left his mother and had relationship with another woman. Since there is no father he has to depend on his mother for everything. Both the mother and son look innocent and optimistic.
Nguyễn Thanh Tùng
Nguyen Thi Ngọc (Name changed) also has a birth defect, now lives with her 87-year-old mother.
Mrs Nguyễn Thị Nguyêt was bon in 1916 live with her old daughter
On January 6th, the group include in 18 more benefactors from Arkansas State, visited the XuyXa shelter, where there are 36 people in need of care, the elderly have no relative or no one taking care of them, people with severe disabilities, abandoned children, orphans, deaf and dumb children.
Visiting with the disability and children here has left an unforgettable impression on everyone in the group because with disabled bodies, but they are always happy and optimistic, they are the ones who give the group the gifts of overcoming hardship, courage and love in life ...
After that, the group came to visit and distribute 30 wheelchairs to disabled people in My Duc district, where there are people with footless and lonely circumstances, and very difficult circumstances...
On January 9th was also the last day before the group left the beautiful country of Vietnam, say goodbye to the disabled people, they visited the community of the Congregation of the Holy Cross of Hanoi, where there are 200 children in kindergarten, and 20 people with disabilities belong to KeNghe shelter by Sr. Anna Nguyen Thi Ngoan is in charged. Afterwards, the group visited and distributed 15 wheelchairs for disabled people in Bang So Parish.
Everyone has own problem but as human being, everyone want to live with dignity, to serve and be served, and to be able to take care of oneself. For a healthy person, a wheelchair has no meaning, but for people with disabilities, it's a pair of legs that enable them to walk on their own, can help them earn a living and lead them to a joyful life.
Love is a language that anyone can understand. To people with disabilities and the group have such a love. Therefore, at the end of the journey with the disabilities, everyone in the group has the same feeling of joy, optimism, and energy in each the disabilities. It is this makes the people in the group feel that they are the ones who receive the gifts.
According to Pope Francis, the disabled are a precious treasure. "Among all of you, there is a treasure box, a treasure box. Your job is to open that box and take out the treasure, make it grow, give it to others and also receive valuable things from others.”
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