Quan’s story is fundamental to what ACCV is all
about – we strive to create new realities for young people who
desperately need a hand up, many of whom are
This story has evolved over the last couple of
years, and it will continue to grow as Quan rebuilds his life. It is also a
story that we hope to reproduce many times , there are so many Quans out there, just
waiting for our help. For those of you new to ACCV, here is the story of Quan
as told in several newsletters and website entries.
I have just returned from a fleeting trip to Hanoi, and I would like to introduce you to a lovely young man, called Quan;
Quan is 17 years old and up until grade five he was an excellent student who enjoyed school, reading, and life in general. Unfortunately, an undiagnosed and untreated condition severely affected his health and as a result he has slowly gone blind
Quan lives in a very remote area about three hours drive from Hanoi. The opportunities are very limited even for the able bodied, as you can imagine they came to a grinding halt for Quan as his disabilities grew. It soon became impossible for him to attend school, (special education teachers or facilities for the handicapped are a pipe dream!)As a very sad result he has spent the last seven years sitting, exposed to the elements in a very basic hut that he calls home. Remember, this boy was an excellent student with a very active mind, we can only imagine how long his days are!
Quans father suffered a massive stroke a few years ago, his mother carries on alone as she cares for both father and son. Quans mother cried as she talked about her fears for him as she aged, Quan sat very quietly nearby and simply listened.
One of my first meetings in Hanoi was with the vice-chairman of theAssociation for the blind. There are no schools or facilities in Hao Binh were Quan lives and the Association caters only to the long list of blind people who reside in Hanoi. After discussing Quans situation and our desire to help a solution has been reached. The association will make a n exception for Quan, if we can fund a class for ten students, the other nine will be local blind residents of Hanoi who would never have the opportunity do a course such as this, so it really is a win-win situation! (Just a minor detail of funding!)
Quan will attend school in Hanoi for six months, the association will assist with providing a host family for him. He will learn all the basics for caring for himself, he will learn Braille and he will be trained in therapeutic massage, given a full qualification and job placement!
I hope you are all keeping well.
Alison & Rose
Wonderful news! Quan is now a resident of Hanoi and a full time student! The beaming grin on his face in the photo below, as he emerges from his rural home, says it all!
On August 7th an opening ceremony was held at the centre for Quan and the other young blind students fortunate enough to gain a place in this life altering residential program
(sadly there were many other impoverished blind teenagers who were also desperate for the opportunity – maybe next year!!). Jim was on hand to take the photos and he
reports that the students were all beaming as they received their individual Braille kits. Students and their teachers immediately got down to the serious task of learning to read!!
We have raised just over half the funds required for the students to complete the six month program.
When Rose and Ireturn to Hanoi at the end of September, we will catch up with Quan and spend some time with the other students.Hopefully we will have raised the
remaining $2,500.00 by then.
Once again we would like to thank you all for your support, the difference your donations make to the children we are working with in Hanoi is quite incredible. You are changing lives!
Alison & Rose
OCTOBER TRIP 2007
Rose I had a wonderful trip to Hanoi in October and I would like to update you on the news, particularly in regards to Quan and the other blind students. They are doing so well,
we were left in no doubt whatsoever that your kind donations are being very well utilised!
We spent a day with the Association for the blind just after our arrival in Hanoi, we enjoyed a morning at the school, meeting up with Quan and the other students. It is a fabulous
setting for them, they have developed lovely friendships and there is a definite feeling of camaraderie amongst them all. The teaching and support staff are on hand at all
times and the students have made huge strides in so many areas.
It was so lovely to see the development of the students, particularly Quan.It was interesting to recall my June visit to his home town to discuss the possibility of him attending
this course. One of his very clear comments was ‘I want to read’ well he did. His teachers comment on how bright he is and he has taken to Braille reading like a duck to water!
He carries a pile of A4 Braille papers around with him and at any given opportunity he likes to catch up on the news!!
We then spent a very interesting afternoon visiting the families of very young (2-6yrs) blind children. It is very sad to see such limited intervention for these children and the
desperate plight of their parents. Hopefully as ACCV grows we can offer some sort of assistance to these people.
On Sunday October 21st we took Quan back up to Hoa Binh to visit his family. It was truly a wonderful day, everyone in his small village was so delighted to see him and they
all revelled in his progress. We were very warmly welcomed and fed a local feast that we know took a lot of their resources!
His mother was quite astounded at how he had changed since he had left for Hanoi, she was beaming with pride as he discussed his future plans to set up in Hoa Binh a
nd practise massage as a profession. As we were leaving she gave me a hug and then totally broke down! Telling us her greatest fears in life were what would happen to Quan
as she aged, he had no prospects at all and now he has a life and “he is such a confidence!“ While it was anincredible moment between two mothers towhom fate had
handed such different cards, it was an absolute moment of clarity that the funds ACCV have collected to fund the course for these blind students is actually changing lives!
We also became very aware of the wonderful work the Association for the Blind in Hanoi are doing and how appreciative they are of our help. We are currently running
a fundraiser to purchase two Braille machines for the school so they can print off books for the students and other blind youngsters to read. We are hoping to raise $1500 to
cover the cost of both machines and shipment, the dinner at Sassafrasin particular (thanks Melanie and Natasha!) and of course any donations are always most gratefully received.
Thank you once again for your valued support.
Alison & Rose
February 2008-Graduation News!
Quan is now a fully qualified massage therapist!
Along with the other nine students he has actually graduated. There was an official closing ceremony and fortunately Jim and Nam were on hand to enjoy and photograph
this special occasion for us. This really is quite an amazing achievement for a group of young people who had very limited prospects just a short time ago!
Quan’s story really makes you aware that we just don’t know what’s around the corner in life, when you think of where he was just eight months ago, in that tiny shack up in the
mountains. Just look at him now!
It is with such delight that I can tell you that Quan has been offered a job in Hanoi, he now travels around independently and he also has a girlfriend!! This is a boy who actually said to us in June, “I want the life!” ….. well he certainly has one now!
Running this course has proven to be a wonderful success, and the Hanoi Blind Association such a pleasure to deal with, that we would really like to fund another course. There is already a waiting l list of those who missed out the first time around. It is really not difficult to give a helping hand to these young blind people who are desperately in need.
Your generosity has made such an enormous difference, amazing to think that just a few hundred dollars can completely turn a young life around. I hope we will continue to have your support as we move ahead with establishing another program.
I will again return to Hanoi at Easter, I look forward to catching up with Quan and his family, and following up on the other students, some of whom already have jobs. I will of course be spending time with the beautiful children of Friendship Home.
In the December ACCV newsletter I mentioned that we had managed to finance two Braille Machines for the centre. They have arrived in Hanoi from Germany, been very gratefully received and already put to good use.
I wish you all the very best in the year of the Rat!
Alison & Rose
Rose and I have just returned from another trip to Hanoi. Things are going very well at the Association for the Blind and as previously mentioned we would like to go ahead with another course in Braille and Massage. The students have all done well and seven of the ten students are now working!
Seeing Quan was an absolute delight, Jim mentioned the drastic transformation that has taken place and I must agree! As you may remember when we first met him he was a very quiet, lonely young man who had sat in his very basic rural family home since he was ten years old and an untreated disease left him without his sight and unable to go to school.
Well we barely recognise him now!!
Quans natural effervescent personality has very much come to the fore! He was delighted to see us and cordially invited us to lunch as he is now an accomplished cook! (He is pretty good too I have to say) He was proudly chatting away about his job and was very keen to give Rose a massage – which she thoroughly enjoyed! He was telling us all about his day to day living and how he enjoys working, he proudly showed off his new shoes (purchased with his very own money!) and as we teased him about planning a wedding around our visits he became quite serious and said;
‘Thank you so much, I am really happy with my new life!’........ I guess this is what it is all about
Jim and I took Quan back up to Hoa Binh to visit his hometown and his mother, who is extremely happy and grateful at the new independent life her son is now enjoying. We took a rice cooker and a fan up to her so she may enjoy a little more comfort in her day to day existence. It was a lovely visit and so nice to see the ripple effect of helping these kids.
An interesting turn of events was the inclusion of a delightful little girl Trang. She is only seven years old and she is going to join in the next course for the first two months,
she will learn the Braille and re-discovery portion of the course which will then equip her to attend the local school and begin her education. We are hopeful that we can
increase this option and make it available to help the many young blind children in Hanoi who presently have no educational options available to them.
Alison & Rose
THE RIPPLE EFFECT …
As so often happens when we begin something, we think we know precisely what we are doing. Our goals and objectives seem so clear
And so it was with Quan, our goal was very simple, we wanted to improve his life, to give him the opportunity to leave his hillside home, at least for a little while.
To learn to read - and best case scenario, to hopefully give him some sort of employment prospects for the future.
We weren’t too sure how the massage would go, Quans hands were a problem as his illness had also led to extreme arthritis and pain in both his hands. But, even if the massage didn’t work, there were so many other positives to be had, it was definitely worth a shot.For as long as I've known Quan he has required pain killers to give him relief from the constant pain in his hands, we would buy them for him in bulk. As you all know, the massage course was very successful and Quan is now working and he really enjoys his job.
On our last visit Quan invited us to a lunch he and the others at the centre had prepared, (very good too I might add!) I asked him if he needed me to pick up a supply of pain killers for him…
I was so surprised whenhe responded;
“Oh, no thank you, the pain has gone from my hands now,I haven’t needed the pain medicine for a long time!”
It turns out that the constant use of his hands as he gives massage, has brogught great relief to his arthritic condition.
After lunch Quan very proudly announced that he had something to show me.He took off into a back room with his friend and colleague Thuy, and returned pushing a wheelchair! ….He very proudly explained that with help from those at the Association he had bought a second hand wheelchair for his father who has been incapacitated since suffering a stroke a number of years ago. He also announced that he sends money to his mother each month.
We had a great laugh as Rose and Igave Quana quick spin in the wheelchair, great fun!!
For just a minute,I couldn’t help but look at him and think back to the withdrawn, lonely boyI met last year, and the fears his mother had for his future. This same boy
has now enhanced the standard of living of his entire family.
Not part of the plan ………but a really nice ripple effect.
Quan once told me that he really enjoyed going to school when he was younger, before he lost his sight atage ten. His education came to an abrupt end at the same time as his illness took hold. In particular he enjoyed reading, so he was excited at the prospect of learning Braille, for a while there he was constantly reading, he had a lot of catching up to do! He also enjoyed all other aspects of attending school, he believes education is very important.
As you all know, Quan spent many years with his life on hold, it has only been this last year that he has slowly resumed living a regular life. He really has gone from strength to strength, he has a lovely home and support network at the Blind Association where he works. The folks that run the centre are genuinely nice people who really care for the staff, he’s very happy.
During our October trip we were enjoying lunch with Quan and other staff members when we were asked if we could provide him with a digital voice recorder. When we enquired as to why he would need one, Quan smiled broadly and announced that he has gone back to school!
This is another huge step in Quan re-building his life – we were amazed and delighted for him. With a very proud grin he told us that he travels into Hanoi on weekends and attends classes all day Saturday and Sunday. He needs to record his teacher during the class so that he can replay his lessons that night and write his notes in Braille!
We very happily purchased the recorder for him.
It has become a wonderful observation to watch Quan’s life come together piece by piece. This is certainly another important step for him.
Recently, , Dat and Anh paid him a visit at his school and kindly sent me an email along with a few photos.
“OMG I can’t believe Quan, he looks so good! He used to be so quiet and now he talks to everyone and starts jokes with Dat and his friends.
I can’t believe that he goes to school every weekend by himself”.
Yes!! ..... Quan’s story continues.
Alison & Rose
Saturday, May 9, 2009
The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom…….
Many of you know the story of Quan It
is a privilege to play a small part in the journey that is this young man’s life. He has come
such a long way since we met him in 2007.
I sometimes pause in awe of Quans achievements and
how well he has handled everything.And then I think of the expression; ……… The
apple doesn’t fall far from the tree …
When we first went up to rural Hoa Binh to meet
Quan, we also met his mother Duyen. A delightful lady, we found her to be very gracious
and calm as she dealt with the extreme challenges of daily life. Her husband
suffered a massive stroke a number ofyears ago and he is totally incapacitated. Poverty
stricken, with an invalid husband and a disabled child, you can imagine her day to day
existence as she soldiered on and caredfor both father and son.
During that first meeting we broached the subject
of Quan leaving the tiny shack and coming to live in Hanoi to study. Duyen very
graciously thanked us for helping them, and tears softly rolled down her cheeks as she spoke of
the difficulties in their lives, andher fears as a mother about what the future would
hold for her child. Quan sat very quietly nearby and simply listened to
everything that was said, he didn’tsay a word.
Duyen and Quan are obviously close and it
must have been so difficult for her to let him go off to a busy city hours
away, knowing she wouldn't see him for months. But let him go she did, in the
hope that his life would improve, and it certainly did! Quan’s achievements
have been quite remarkable and they have really transformed his life and those
of his family. He has become an inspiration for so many people, and the amazing
thing is that his story is still unfolding! He now works as a massage
therapist, he attends IT lessons a few afternoons a week and he goes into Hanoi
all day Saturday and Sunday to attend secondary school.
This young man is going
places! He has that same gracious way about him, he calmly accepts &
appreciates every opportunity that comes his way and he then puts his all into
doing a good job. He is so much more confident now and he’s really enjoying his
life. And his mum is not quite so worried about his future anymore.
is Mothers day, a day set aside to honour and appreciate our mothers. I can’t help
but think about Quan’s Mum. As this beautiful photo from Jim
Mother’s day is so much better for her this year.
then of course, there are all the other mothers out there, poverty stricken,
with very real fears and concerns for their child’s future....
Alison & Rose
Sunday, June 28, 2009
On a visit to see Quan a couple of years ago, I met an elderly lady who
was a regular visitor and a friend of his. She used to sit with him
sometimes to keep him company, help while away the many hours (and years)
he sat in his family home with nothing to do. During our visit she signalled
to me with outstretched hands, and tears in her eyes, miming the tragedy of
this young boy she knew. It was very sad.
You can imagine my delight when I received this photo from Jim. I
immediately recognised the elderly neighbour, but this time I didn’t
recognise the expression on her face. There is no sympathy to be seen, you can clearly see the happy respect she shows Quan as
she meets with him when he returns to his village for a visit.
(I might add that he
was a passenger on
a motorbike, hence the helmet .... he wasn’t driving! :)
That sad young man is now a distant memory. Quan is a respected member
of the community, even somewhat of a celebrity, they love it when he comes home for a visit.
The local youngsters are quite intrigued, they all know Quan, he’s the
blind guy who was given an opportunity to go to Hanoi. He's the guy who
studied hard, worked hard and got himself a life!
There are many other young Quans out there waiting for a similar
opportunity. We are hoping to raise the funds to run a few more courses for
blind students this year.
We greatly appreciate every donation,
it is simply not possible for us to run the courses without your help.