by Phuong Mai
10 disabled Vietnamese honoured
Writer and translator Nguyen Bich Lan, who has muscular dystrophy, is 30 years old but weighs only 30kg. Despite her disability, she is one of the most popular translators in Viet Nam, having completed 20 books, including two autobiographies by Nick Vujicic, an Australian man born without limbs.
Lan has been included as one 10 outstanding disabled Vietnamese to be honoured by the Viet Nam Records Book Centre's (Vietkings) new programme called "Journey to Find a Record of Will".
Another woman, Vo Thi Hoang Yen, who is paralysed from the waist down and graduated from the University of Kansas in the US, will also be honoured. After completing her studies, she returned to Viet Nam to open the Disability Research and Capacity Development organisation.
Le Tran Truong An, general director of Vietkings, said the work highlighted the efforts, trials and contributions of the disabled in Viet Nam.
"Through their stories, we hope to raise people's awareness of the disabled so they can better integrate into the community," he added.
Vietkings has asked local authorities and the press to submit information by August 15 about any person with a disability who has made extraordinary contributions to the country.
The names of the 10 people selected for the honour will be announced in September.
Nguyen Thanh Long, chairman of the Love Viet Nam Fund organised by Vietkings, said the fund would offer financial support to the winners to help them make their dreams come true.
Long says Vietkings planned to recognise 10 outstanding people of disabilities each year.
Feathering his nest with artworks
A 53-year-old man in Hoi An has spent most of his lifetime creating artworks. That's nothing particularly new, but Dinh Thong doesn't use paint or traditional materials like lacquer. Instead his chosen medium is chicken feathers.
"I began to do creative work when I was a 12th grader. They were goodbye gifts to my friends," Thong said.
Tourists in Hoi An are intrigued and amused by his work.
Thong buys straight and glossy feathers from chicken slaughterhouses and then dries them in the sun.
He sketches ideas for his paintings on cardboard and then places the feathers to create landscapes or portraits of Hoi An residents.
"A painting takes me two days or even a week," Thong said. "My paintings are unique and can be kept in frames for dozens of years."
One painting costs around VND5 million (US$240) depending on size.
"Someone wanted to pay me dozens of millions of dong for a portrait of late composer Trinh Cong Son, but I decided to keep it," Thong said.
Thong is now working on large-scale feather artworks of Viet Nam's World Heritage sites.
"I plan to register my paintings with the Guinness Records. I hope it will help introduce Viet Nam's spectacular sites to the world," he said. — VNS