|In the beginning: In 2009, when Da Nang Cancer Hospital was first launched, teenager Phan Thien Phuc donated VND1 million ($48) to support charitable activities there. VNS File Photos
by Nguyen Huy and An Vu
Phan Thien Phuc, a boy just thirteen years of age, has received national acclaim after spending all of his saving money to buy one tonne of rice for the charity kitchen at the Da Nang Cancer Hospital.
Although just a young student of Dinh Thien Ly Secondary School in HCM City, Phuc has dedicated his time to visiting patients suffering from cancer in the city and makes regular trips with his mother, Phan Thi Ly, 37.
Last October, Phuc was officially named as one of the best individuals in the charitable field. "He usually saves finances by skipping breakfast and saving up his new year lucky money. Phuc sometimes starves himself to put money in his piggy bank so that he can make more savings," Phuc's mother proudly says about her son.
Back in 2009, when Da Nang Cancer Hospital was first launched, Phuoc immediately donated VND1 million ($48) to support their charitable activities.
Later on, he received a Certificate of Merit for good deeds to the community from Da Nang authorities.
"This time around, I chose to buy rice so that the patients will have a hot pot of porridge to warm their hearts every day when fighting this dangerous disease," Phuc says.
He adds that he has been inspired by memories of his grandmother, who passed away after a long struggle with cancer.
"We did not learn that she had cancer until her final days. Now the more I remember her, the more I want to help these patients. Sometime, after class I visit orphanages around the hospital to help children there.
"There are so many cancer patients that the hospitals sometime run out of beds. I heard the doctors say that if the disease is diagnosed earlier then it is easier to fight, and nobody else would have to be like my grandmother," Phuc adds.
On a recent trip to the Da Nang Cancer Hospital, Phuc took many photos for a presentation to his classmates.
"In the future I would like to study abroad in the US at Piedmont High school in San Jose, California. I will bring with me the images of Vietnamese patients and the hospital to appeal for the support of our international friends," he declares.
|Social concern: Student Phan Thien Phuc hopes that one day a breakthrough will happen in cancer research for the sake of the patients.
Pham Phuong Thao, a classmate of Phuc, also breaks her piggy bank to give VND3 millions ($143,1) to the hospital's kitchen, so that they can cook for the patients.
"I admire Phuc's generous heart and I also want to do something, no matter if it is just a little thing, to help these people. It is not easy for them to suffer everyday," she says.
Nguyen Thi Van Lan, deputy head of the Da Nang Protection Association of Poor Chilren and Women, which deployed the Da Nang Cancer Hospital project, says: "Phuc is an angel to us. He is a messenger who calls for support for the hospital's humanitarian work. He is just a child, but what he had done is the work of a real adult. Phuc persuaded his family to give a water refinery to the hospital, when nobody before had thought of that!"
She also emphasises that the association has approved a donation of more than VND620 million ($29,800) from Akihiro Nakamura, general manager of Cecile Incorporation, to the charity kitchen of the hospital. This money will support equipment and VND25 million every month to upgrade the kitchen. The patients and their families will now also enjoy three free meals everyday.
Phuc still hopes that one day a miracle will happen in the lives of the patients.
"I really wish that my work will help to raise awareness among my community about one of the most dangerous diseases on earth and somehow ease the pain that the patients have to endure everyday," he says. — VNS