|Nguyen Van Quang and his wife
They are one of the two outstanding families nominated by Can Tho City’s Association of AO/dioxin Victims to receive a national honor.
70-year old Quang and his wife left their hometown to make a living in what is now Binh Phuoc province. They worked on rubber plantations and were unknowingly exposed to Agent Orange. Quang also sold farm produce at markets while his wife collected scraps for re-sale.
One day, they realized that all of their children, upon reaching 5 years of age, became weak with deformed limbs. The couple was anguished because they didn’t know what was happening to their children, for whom the doctors were unable to do much.
Quang said “All the kids were normal when they were little. But the deformity began when they were 5. If I had known the reason, I would have stopped at 1 child. At that time I thought the illness just struck my first kid and the next one would be fine, but then all 6 children developed the same symptoms.”
|Quang's grandson shows his scar of the third surgery.
Quang didn’t want the sickness to ruin his children’s lives and was determined to find them jobs so they could earn a living. To earn money, the couple grew and sold vegetables, served at wedding ceremonies, and did any other work they could find, no matter how far away or how difficult.
Quang taught his children to be self-sufficient and learn a vocation although they all struggled physically. His patience and perseverance paid off when his children found the courage to accept their reality and move forward.
In 2007, with support from a local fund for AO/dioxin victims, Quang’s two youngest children began to learn mobile phone repair and now are able to support themselves.
Quang said “Our life is hard but is never short of love. My wife and I stay courageous and teach our children to do the same”.
All 6 of Quang’s children have married. Unfortunately, his grandchildren are also deformed by the poison. Eight members of the family are AO/dioxin victims. Quang’s granddaughter Nguyen Thi Bich Lien has graduated from a pharmacy college and his grandson Pham Trung Hieu has finished school and is now a mobile phone repairman. Hieu has had 3 surgeries for broken bones and will have at least 2 more surgeries in the future.
According to Tran Thi Lien Kieu, Chairwoman of the Can Tho City Association for AO/Dioxin victims, Quang’s family is among those most severely affected by AO/Dioxin in Vietnam and is also one of the brightest examples of courage.
“Three generations of Quang’s family are infected with the chemical poison. They have social financial support but it’s Quang who uses it effectively to educate his children so that each of them has a stable job. I must say that Quang sets an example of extraordinary perseverance,” Kieu said.