Saturday, December 10 2016

VietNamNews

Blind children in Viet Nam touch Aussie Joe's heart

Update: January, 02/2016 - 12:00

An Australian called Joe Edwards has raised money for children in Viet Nam who are blind.

He walked thousands of kilometres across his country to raise the cash.

Joe came up with idea after he saw a home for blind children in Viet Nam that needed lots of help.

The children touched his heart so he decided to do something to help them.

Trusty companion: Joe Edwards (left) with his only company a sheep dog almost all the time undertook a long, unpleasant journey to make more than US$26,000 for blind kids in Viet Nam.
Trusty companion: Joe Edwards (left) with his only company a sheep dog almost all the time undertook a long, unpleasant journey to make more than US$26,000 for blind kids in Viet Nam. - Photos courtesy of Joe Edwards

By Nguyen Khanh Chi

HA NOI  (VNS) — As the Christmas party goes on, sight-impaired youngsters surround Joe Edwards, holding his hands. Unable to see their ‘Santa Claus', they still look into his eyes, showing their admiration.

This Santa Claus has flown over 5,000km to give them a special Christmas present, more than A$36,000 (US$26,000) he raised from his walk along his country, Australia.

The funds were given to underprivileged kids of the Hai Duong Province's Blind Association during a Christmas and New Year party on Monday.

Leaving high school two years ago, Edwards joined Latitude Global Volunteering upon his mother's advice. The then 19-year-old man came to teach English in the province in the North of Viet Nam for three and a half months.

By chance, he heard about the kids who suffer from blindness as an indirect effect of Agent Orange at the Blind Association. He taught them English for five days.

Seeing the poor living conditions of the kids, Edwards couldn't keep back his tears.

"It was sort of flick switch in my head," Edwards said.

"The kids don't get much help from many people. In my country, there are a lot of people that need help but no one needs help more than the kids here," he said.

As soon as he returned to Australia, he embarked on the idea of "Walk the Line" which many thought "crazy". However, the idea came into being two years later, in mid-2015.

With his only company a sheep dog for most of the journey, Edwards walked 3,500km from Cairns, a city in the north tropical Queensland to Melbourne, Victoria's coastal capital.

Aware of this noble plan and purpose, and admiring the Melbourne native's determination, many individuals, enterprises, social organisations, and local administrations waited the day he passed them to donate to the "Walk the Line" Fund.

Donations came in various ways, either sending the money directly to the fund's bank account or giving directly to him.

When Joe Edwards saw the kids living in the aging and unstable building, he said he wanted to do something to help them when he returned home," said Pham Van Huong, an English teacher at the association.

"Coming home, he informed me of his plan to walk 3,500km to raise funds for the kids. I told him the idea was interesting but quite crazy," Huong said.

‘Just wait and see how my crazy idea goes', Edwards wrote to Huong, adding that he would grow his hair until he completed the journey.

Huong said Edwards updated her along his route but kept secret the amount of money people donated.

"Joe has kept his word, and his hair has grown much longer."

When he started, the Australian public supported him and NGO's like "Agent-Orange Justice of Australia" helped him to reach more and more people.

"When he came up with Walk the Line I was surprised. If anybody can do it…it is him," said Juergen Eichhorn from the Star of Viet Nam charity organisation through which the funds are donated to help 65 sight-impaired children and young adults.

"My brain told me ‘NO'. I know about the dangers in the bush and on the way and roads. There are snakes, spiders and other animals that can kill you in seconds," the German said. "However, my heart told me ‘YES'."

"Walk the Line is one of the great stories which delivers our message around the world. In Europe, many people and organisations know about the initiative," Eichhorn added.

Edwards used to be shy, but with his motivation to help the kids, he would talk to everyone about their story. He said he had learned to be more outgoing because of the walk.

Huong said he was so gentle and shy that he just smiled whenever someone at the blind association teased him.

"Joe has extraordinary courage. Many people might think of a similar idea, but not many can realize it. I really admire him and what he has done."

For Edwards, there are only two ways to be in this world: either be a part of the problem, or be a part of the solution, he chose to help.

The Aussie youth had to learn to overcome problems, "No matter how hard the walking got, I would still not have it harder than the blind kids in Hai Duong. That's what kept me going, mentally and physically," he said.

Embarking on the journey, he did really face challenges, solitude and feeling like the finish line was an eternity away. There were also close calls with trucks, snakes, injuries and dehydration. In addition, he had to travel through various terrains including deserts that sometimes reached over 40oC in the day time or dropped to 16oC at night.

According to Eichhorn, who now is in charge of organising therapy and play groups, music lessons, fun and games and English courses for the kids, the association will build a new four floor building with a kitchen, dining room, bedrooms, and play and therapy areas next year.

"The money [that Joe raised] will be used for the new building and I am sure that one room will carry the name ‘Joe Edwards Therapy room'," said Eichhorn.

"He loves the kids and he made all this to arrange money for better accommodation and living conditions."

Apart from 65 children and youths aged from four to 18 at the association, about 35 more very young kids (three to nine years) are waiting to get a place in the centre. With the new donation, there will be enough space for about 120 disabled children.

Moved by his golden heart, the kids presented Edwards a large-size picture on which they draw plenty of foot and finger prints, in the hope that many other people will follow in his foot steps. — VNS

GLOSSARY

As the Christmas party goes on, sight-impaired youngsters surround Joe Edwards, holding his hands. Unable to see their ‘Santa Claus', they still look into his eyes, showing their admiration.

To be sight impaired means to have something wrong with you that makes it difficult for you to see properly.

By surrounding Joe Edwards, the youngsters stand all around him, on all sides.

The funds were given to underprivileged kids of the Hai Duong Province's Blind Association during a Christmas and New Year party on Monday.

Underprivileged kids are those who have had very few opportunities and have been brought up in poor homes.

The then 19-year-old man came to teach English in the province in the North of Viet Nam for three and a half months.

"The then 19-year-old man means that Joe Edwards was 19 when he came to teach English in the North of Viet Nam. He may be older now.

By chance, he heard about the kids who suffer from blindness as an indirect effect of Agent Orange at the Blind Association.

Agent Orange was a chemical that the Americans sprayed on plants in Viet Nam during the war, causing plants to lose their leaves so that it would be easier for them to fight the war. It was awful for Viet Nam because it caused so many people to suffer in many different ways. Sometimes it was indirect, such as when the babies of affected people developed problems.

As soon as he returned to Australia, he embarked on the idea of "Walk the Line" which many thought "crazy".

When he embarked on the walk, he set out on the walk.

With his only company a sheep dog for most of the journey, Edwards walked 3,500km from Cairns, a city in the north tropical Queensland to Melbourne, Victoria's coastal capital.

A sheep dog is a dog has is used to work with sheep.

Donations came in various ways, either sending the money directly to the fund's bank account or giving directly to him.

Donations are things that people give to other people, or organisations such as charities.

"When Joe Edwards saw the kids living in the aging and unstable building, he said he wanted to do something to help them when he returned home," said Pham Van Huong, an English teacher at the association.

Aging means growing old.

If a building is unstable, it could easily fall apart.

When he started, the Australian public supported him and NGO's like "Agent-Orange Justice of Australia" helped him to reach more and more people.

NGOs are non-governmental organisations. They often do work that governments should do but are unable to for various reasons. .

"Walk the Line is one of the great stories which delivers our message around the world. In Europe, many people and organisations know about the initiative," Eichhorn added.

An initiative, in this case, is an idea that has been turned into action.

Edwards used to be shy, but with his motivation to help the kids, he would talk to everyone about their story. He said he had learned to be more outgoing because of the walk.

Your motivation is your reason for doing something that keeps you doing it.

To be outgoing means to be friendly and to believe in yourself.

"Joe has extraordinary courage. Many people might think of a similar idea, but not many can realize it. I really admire him and what he has done."

To realize something means to cause it to happen.

For Edwards, there are only two ways to be in this world: either be a part of the problem, or be a part of the solution, he chose to help.

A solution is an answer to a problem.

The Aussie youth had to learn to overcome problems, "No matter how hard the walking got, I would still not have it harder than the blind kids in Hai Duong.

Aussie is a casual word used to describe an Australian. It is not offensive to Australians; they usually enjoy being called Aussies.

That's what kept me going, mentally and physically," he said.

Mentally means to do with the mind; physically means to do with the body.

Embarking on the journey, he did really face challenges, solitude and feeling like the finish line was an eternity away.

Challenges are difficulties.

Solitude means loneliness.

Eternity means forever and ever ...

There were also close calls with trucks, snakes, injuries and dehydration.

Dehydration happens when your body becomes short of water.

In addition, he had to travel through various terrains including deserts that sometimes reached over 40oC in the day time or dropped to 16oC at night.

Various terrains means different types of countryside.

According to Eichhorn, who now is in charge of organising therapy and play groups, music lessons, fun and games and English courses for the kids, the association will build a new four floor building with a kitchen, dining room, bedrooms, and play and therapy areas next year.

Therapy is treatment used to help someone get better after suffering from having something wrong with them.

Moved by his golden heart, the kids presented Edwards a large-size picture on which they draw plenty of foot and finger prints, in the hope that many other people will follow in his foot steps.

People who have hearts of gold are very kind.

To follow in someone's footsteps means to one day do what that person did in the past.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false.

1.      Many children in Viet Nam have been affected by a chemical called Agent Orange, even though they were not even born when it was sprayed during the war.

2.      Joe Edwards began his journey in Melbourne and ended it in Cairns.

3.      There are snakes in the bush in Australia.

4.      Nobody in Australia knew about Agent Orange before Joe Edward's walk.

5.      Pham Van Huong's job is to teach a certain European language.

 

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2016









































 1. True; 2. False; 3. True; 4. False; 5. True.

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