Viet Nam News
By Linh Giang
HÀ NAM – Trần Quang Dũng, 36, has been paralysed since an illness when he was 2 years old. But he has not only survived and thrived with his disability—he has also provided support to disadvantaged people thanks in part to a cherished role model.
Dũng, from the northern province of Hà Nam’s Duy Tiên District, said his childhood was spent inside his house, watching friends who were the same age go to school and play. Recalling the past time, he felt sad and couldn’t hold back tears.
Though Dũng’s grandfather was a well-known herbalist and the best medicine had been applied for him, his condition did not improve.
One day, he was told the story of teacher Nguyễn Ngọc Ký who suffered paralysis in both arms after illness as a child. Against all odds, Ký became a good student and taught himself to write with his feet. He triumphed in his career as an educator. He was granted the title of “Meritorious Teacher” in 1992.
Encouraged by Ký’s example, Dũng asked his parents to let him go to school. But his dream of learning was quickly put off as he felt terrible pain in his legs after attending school for a week.
Traditional medicine family
When he was 16 years old, taking advantage of his family’s traditional herbal medicine practices, he started to learn about traditional medicine with the desire to become a good herbalist so that he could heal people’s illness and earn a living at the same time.
In 2002, upon hearing the news that the Vietnam Traditional Medicine Association opened a training course in his hometown, he immediately registered to attend and became the only student with disabilities in the class.
“One of my biggest disadvantages is that I couldn’t go to school like others at the same age,” he said.
Dũng’s parents bought textbooks and taught him by themselves. Later, they invited some tutors to help him with learning.
“Because I didn’t enter university, I searched for information on health, science and technology on the internet to gain more knowledge,” he said.
After a long period of self-learning, with knowledge handed down from his grandparents and with help from his family, Dũng decided to open a clinic on traditional medicine.
“At first, the clinic received no customers”, he said, saying that he was too young and his disability might have made customers wary.
But gradually he gained their trust as he was always enthusiastic to help the poor and those who shared his circumstances.
Now, the clinic has become famous due to the efficacy of its methods. Local residents and people from neighbouring provinces knew about the clinic through word of mouth, he said.
Recognising the hardship of the disabled, Dũng set up a project to establish the Association of People with Disabilities in Hà Nam Province in 2005. It was one of the first provincial-level associations for people with disabilities in the country.
After many efforts, on August 19, 2006, the Association of People with Disabilities in Hà Nam Province held its first meeting and Dũng was elected chairman of the association.
Up to now, all six districts and towns of the province have set up the Association of People with Disabilities with the participation of over 1,000 members.
As chairman of the association, Dũng is directly involved in the dissemination of the International Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and policies related to people with disabilities, funded by the Danish Government for 2017-2020 period. The purpose of this activity is to promote the equity and full integration of people with disabilities in the development of society.
For Dũng, the biggest happiness of his life is to see people recover from illness.
"I’m not lucky since I was born. I was paralysed so I understand the problems patients suffered.”
“All of my work is aimed at helping those in need, especially the ones who are in similar circumstances. For an herbalist like me, healing human wounds is my happiness as for me saving people means saving ourselves. "
Dũng also expressed his hope that more attention would be paid for people with disabilities in terms of vocational training and employment with a view to improve their living conditions and help them easily integrate with society. — VNS