Hi! My name is Doan. I am 9 years old, studying in grade 3 of primary school. I live in the Van Hoa Children’s Home.
I’m preparing for the Closing Ceremony of the School Year 2017-2018. I’m so happy. Every single new day, many interesting opportunities open before me.
Below are pictures of me 10 months ago. I was a shy boy and always fearful whenever strangers came near. Hard to believe, right?
At that time I felt lonely whenever I saw other children with their mothers. My mother went missing in 2013. I lived with my father who was very thin and ill. My father struggles with mental illness and spends all day seated on a chair. He often did not care for me or himself. I was malnourished from birth. As a 9 year old I weighed only 16 kilograms (35 pounds). I played by myself in the garden most of the time, with no friends, and no toys. That was my life until my local leaders and YWAM Mercy Vietnam came to visit my family in 2017.
PHOTO ABOVE: Doan and his father when YWAM Mercy staff and local leaders visited his family to assess his need for outside care – July 2017
And so I was admitted to the Children’s Home. This chance felt like it came to me like magic. After these 10 months living in the Home, I feel I’m so lucky. As a newcomer and the youngest in the Home, everyone loves me and takes care of me, helping with even the smallest things. I can’t believe how quickly integrated into this new family. I love the evening time when all of us children sit around telling funny stories, report what happened during the day, or watch “The Voice”, our most favorite show on TV. Everyone loves to sing. Some of my Home brothers and sisters here sing very well too.
The older children and our Home parents tell me to take care of myself, not to stop studying, and to love everyone around. I learned from them about brushing teeth, washing my face, sweeping the house, preparing meals, and gardening or watering flowers.
Now I am not so shy. I have more confidence because my brothers and sisters are always beside me. Brothers Ha and Tien help me wash clothes. Sisters Ngan and Dung help me learn my school lessons. Brother Dang often takes me to school. Wherever we go, we know that Mom Oanh is always there waiting for us to come back home.
Every morning as I wake up I feel happy to see my bothers next to me. We play together and do housework together. Mom Oanh assigns us to groups according to our ability and study schedule. I am assigned to do simple things which are lighter than my older brothers and sisters.
Hung entered the Children’s Home on the same day as me. We became best friends both at home and at school. We are in the same class. We share everything together. Our older brothers and sisters encourage us to eat more to improve our health and they usually give the best food to us.
Since living in the Home, I experienced a lot of “firsts”. It was my first time to go to the cinema. My first time meeting famous people who I could only see on TV before. It’s also the first time for me to have brothers and sisters! I lost my mother but now I have another mother who loves me as her own child. Also, for the first time I performed before many people. In the Home I made the Vietnamese traditional Troi cakes and played sports games, things I never did when I lived with my father (who I still get to see on weekends and holidays.)
Most of these things may be normal for other children in the community, but not for me if there was no Children’s Home.
PHOTO ABOVE: Doan sits with a friendly Australian volunteer at a Children’s Home Sponsor event held in March 2018.
PHOTO ABOVE: Doan and other members of the Children’s Home taking a photo with famous actress Thanh Bi at a football (soccer) fundraiser held in May 2018.
PHOTO ABOVE: Doan and other children displaying the Vietnamese traditional Troi cake dough they made together – April 2018.
PHOTO ABOVE: Doan and other children performing in the Home’s Mid-Autum Festival.
I’m proud to be here, wearing the orange uniform of the Van Hoa Home. The Children’s Home gave me a chance to change into a happy child when I found love and hope from this big family. I want to be a good boy. I want to be healthy and study well as my brothers and sisters do. The biggest lesson I learnt in Home is to live generously and take care of others.
NOTE: This story was paraphrased from an interview with Doan by YWAM Mercy’s Project Officer, Duong Hai Yen.