Mr. Xuyen and Ms. Giau – a couple with disabilities were born into two families in the poor countryside of Binh Dinh province. Xuyen suffered from ankylosing spondylitis since childhood, his limbs were atrophied, and walking was difficult. Ms. Giau suffered from polio after a high fever when she was just over 1 year old. She is paralyzed in both lower limbs, has to walk in a wheelchair and relies on other people’s support.
With support from their family, in 2007, they went to study at Dong Tam Disability Center, Binh Dinh province with the desire to overcome their circumstances, have a career for their own and support themselves. Ms. Giau attended sewing and bamboo weaving classes, Mr. Xuyen studied electrical and mechanical repair. Here, the two met, got to know each other, and started the love story of two people in the same situation.
The life of their small family was fraught with difficulties. Less than 1 month after Ms. Giau gave birth to her first baby, her father passed away. Mr. Xuyen’s family could not afford to raise the baby and support the two siblings, so they decided to each have a place: Ms. Giau went to her mother’s house to live with her mother and raise the baby, Mr. Xuyen lived with his parents. Because of that event, Ms. Giau was determined to prove to everyone that she can earn a living to take care of her family. Temporarily leaving her family and her small child, Ms. Giau went to Saigon to make a living. With the encouragement of Mr. Xuyen, her family, and her own determination, after two years of working hard in Saigon, she had saved up some money and planned to return to her hometown. Seeing Giau’s determination to support herself, Xuyen’s family also agreed to let them finally live together.
The happy life of them began. After returning to Binh Dinh, Ms. Giau and Mr. Xuyen were supported by the Red Cross, the Association of People with Disabilities and Children’s Rights, and the local government to build their house. Ms. Giau opened a small grocery store, Mr. Xuyen also opened an electrical repair shop to earn a living. They were determined to prove to everyone that they were capable of supporting themselves. Mr. Xuyen modified their house himself to be more suitable for Ms. Giau’s disability: the kitchen area was built at a moderate height so that both Mr and Mrs. Giau could reach and cook; the toilet area is designed with a handrail and a low faucet – easy for Ms. Giau to use; all the electrical outlets were installed with a height suitable for Ms. Giau. In addition, he also invented for Ms. Giau a skateboard so that she can easily move around the house: the skateboard is designed with 4 wheels at the four corners for easy movement, with a cushion on the surface of the board to help Ms. Gia sit more comfortably. There are many other tools and appliances in the house which Mr. Xuyen has created and designed to help not Ms. Giau to have an easier life. The Hold My Hand project has inspired them to add more modifications: to start using a wheelchair for Ms. Giau which prevent the risk of falls as well as for convenience in cooking. They are an excellent example of independent living.
They bring happiness to other disabled people. Mr. Xuyen has trained 2 other disabled people to repair electricity, and those two were also able to return to their home and earn money to support themselves. They also regularly connect people in the disability group to share their optimism in life. Mr. Xuyen and Ms. Giau look forward to sharing their stories more with people with disabilities, helping them get job training opportunities, so that everyone can be optimistic, and have more faith in life.
The above story is one of thousands of disabled people’s stories in Binh Dinh. We, the Hold My Hand project, have been carrying out actions to improve care and social support for people with disabilities in Vietnam, thereby improving the quality of life of people with disabilities and their families. On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, the HMH Project/PHAD Institute would like to feature this meaningful story, in harmony with the celebration atmosphere of the holiday, to raise awareness about the life of people with disabilities and their right to be integrated into all areas of life such as politics, society, economy and culture in the community.