The war has receded, but victims of Agent Orange and their relatives have been crying for decades, even every day because of the pain and of a hopeless future because of the evil sequelae. They have tried their best but nothing could be changed. The Agent Orange catastrophe forever lingers through out their lives. They are badly in need of the help of the community. The family of Ms. Nguyen Thi Khanh Ly living in Nguyen Du Quarter, Ward 7, Tuy Hoa City, Phu Yen is such a case.
Giving birth with no happiness
We follow Mr. Tran Van Thai, Vice President of Phu Yen Provincial Association of victims of Agent Orange/dioxin to the house of Ms. Nguyen Thi Khanh Ly, who resides in group 10, Nguyen Du street, ward 7, Tuy Hoa city, Phu Yen to give a small present. Ly told us: She and her husband, Pham Trung Tam, were born in 1983. In 2006, they got married and their parents gave them the reclaimed land of their grandparents to build this house. It is said to be a house, but in fact it is just a hastily-built, steel-roofed room of about 20 m2. There was no sign of furniture, such as beds, wardrobes, tables and chairs, but only two small, curled, lifeless children lying on the old and frayed mattress. In 2008, they were very happy when she gave birth to her first child, Pham Tien. But two years later, Tien still couldn’t walk nor speak. Hoping for another luck, in 2010, she gave birth to a second child, Pham Thien Bao, yet the two of them are still lying in the same place for more than ten years with poor awareness, curled limbs and poor speech. All activities of the two children depend entirely on the support of their parents and grandparents. Even so, the couple still works hard to raise their children. As “Bad luck doesn’t come alone”, in 2017, Mr. Pham Trung Tam developed a mental illness. If in the past, he worked hard, and brought the money earnt home for his wife to raise the children, but since the day he got sick, many days, Tam usually gives away all the money he earns. Many nights, in his dream, he used a flashlight to search and pick up nails, pieces of bottles, bricks ... and brought them home to store, so that people could travel safely tomorrow. He buys paint to write all kinds of poems, proverbs, maxims everywhere in his house and he talks like a sleepwalker. His neurological disease is getting worse and worse, making his health deteriorate, unenabling him to ride his tri-cycle to earn money anymore, so he had to sell it. Since then, Ly\'s life has become extremely miserable.
|Pain needs supportive hearts
Her family is poor, with three in four members are seriously ill with disability certificate and subject to social benefits. Each month, they receive a total allowance of 2,340,000 VND. All the work of this “special family” is like an overwhelming burden on the woman\'s shoulder. Every day, Ly works like a horse but still she can’t finish all the donkey work. She just stops when she feels too tired. Besides taking care of the two bedridden children and keeping track of her husband, she aslo has to earn extra income by selling things. Ly confessed that: “At first, I cried a lot, cried because of everything. I cried for the children and my husband who are hungry and ill without medicine. I cried because of the dim future, and I cried because I felt sorry for myself... But it doesn’t help if I just keep crying. I think, whatever the hardship I encounter, I still have to try to raise my children and my husband. Therefore, I keep working hard regardless of day or night, to my fullest”. Everyday, Ly gets up early, goes to the market and prepares breakfast for the children, and then takes them to their grandparents. After that, she and her husband prepare goods for selling sugarcane juice and soft drinks. On busy days, they can earn up to 300,000 VND. On bad or rainy days, they may suffer a loss. That was in the dry season. In the rainy season, she washes the dishes for local restaurants to earn her living. She started up with 30 million vnd borrowed from bank and pay an interest of 180,000 VND each month, which is a favourable loan for poor women. Her most valuable asset is a new motorbike worthing at 26 million vnd purchased on installment. Over the past year, Mr. Tam got worse. Every couple of months, he starts an outbreak and have to be treated with injections. Each injection costs 900,000 vnd plus more than 1 million vnd of medicine. Both her and his parents are also very poor and can help them nothing but to look after their children when they are at work. Ly has no idea of the cause to the illnesses of her husband and her two children. She only knows that her husband\'s father, Mr. Pham Trung Truong, born in 1954, in Hai Phong enlisted in 1973 and fought in the mountainous area of Son Hoa, Phu Yen. Ly\'s parents (Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Thua and Mrs. Dam Thi Binh), now over 70 years old, before the liberation, also participated in the revolution and lived in the area sprayed with toxic chemicals. Is that the reason that her husband and her two children are now suffering the consequences of Agent Orange? When work finishes, coming home late at night, and looking at the husband and the children, her tears keep running out. Mr. Pham Trung Truong, Ly\'s father-in-law, confided in his pain: “Everyday, looking at my son and my grandchildren, it cuts me to the quick. Many people told me some places to treat them but I can\'t afford to do it. Where can I get the money to pay for travelling, for medicine, and for the doctor?”. Ms. To Thi My Thuy, President of Women\'s Union, Ward 7, Tuy Hoa city, shared: “Ly\'s household for many years has been a poor one with extremely difficult circumstances. Ly herself is the breadwinner of the family. She works hard to overcome the hardship. They have received a lot of help from the local departments and branches, but that is not enough to cover for their expenses. We hope that in the coming time, they will receive more support from the philanthropists”. We left their house when the sun was setting, and people were rushing back to their homes. They were hurried to the fun spots to enjoy the values of life after a hard day of work. And it was also the time for Ly to take her two children to their grandparents, and Tam, though still ill, to prepare things and take his wife to her vendor place. May you sell well to have more income to cover your destitute life./.
Written and photocopied by: Nguyen Ba Thuyet
67 Nguyen Van Cu Street, Ward 7, Tuy Hoa City, Phu Yen