Monday, September 13, 2010


OK, so I know I promised the next post would be about food, but I'm going to make you wait until you've read some more about my work. Mwah ha ha.... 

But don't worry - this one's mainly pictures of what we're up to.

Welcome to Nui Thanh centre!
Having felt at the beginning that this placement just wasn't going to achive anything, it's turned out to be amazing. We're making good progress, and I wish I had longer here. It's mainly informal training with the therapist (in glasses here) and the families, but I'm also doing more structured sessions with local women who volunteer their time to visit children who can't get to the centre.


Days at the centre are full of fun and games. 
I promise you, the little girl below IS having fun...
This is her "I'm having fun" face. Her cerebral palsy just makes it difficult to smile. 
Can you guess what colour we had to make her special chair?

This 14 year old young man had never held a pencil or a crayon in his life. Why? No-one thought he could. He draws every day now, but it's a battle to get anyone to let him try things. This one's really getting to me. He could learn to do so much if people believed in him.

This mother is absolutely incredible. Her little boy is quite severely disabled with cerebral palsy, but they communicate like they're reading each other's minds. I love watching them laughing when they balance on her old bicycle. She works very very hard with him, and she'd do anything for him.


We're also doing a lot of home visits, which are always humbling and unpredictable. At this very remote shack on the side of a mountain, we were treated to an hour-long feast, home brew (lethal), guavas and bananas from the tree outside, cassavas from the garden to take back to the centre, and beds and hammocks to rest in. Work certainly wan't like this in West Bromwich!

This family have a devastating story... they had two healthy normal children, then the husband went to Cambodia with the Vietnamese army (as they fought to end the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge). On his return, they both felt that they wanted more children, so had two more, and both have cerebral palsy with severe learning disabilities. Almost certainly related to the amount of Dioxin in the areas where the soldiers were based.


This little boy was born with club feet, which are being managed well by the Orthopaedic Hospital in Da Nang. The only problem is that families have to go and stay in the city, pay for all the treatment and orthotics, and the children often need input until they are 5 or 6 years old, sometimes longer. For families whose incomes are often only enough to just get by, it really causes them a lot of difficulty. Although it has it's problems, the NHS is pretty special...

The little girl on the far right has severe burns to both her legs, but functionally she's fine. I was sad to discharge her from the centre, as she was a little ray of light, but she's far better off going to school. 

As you can probably tell, I love this job. Good times. 

  and the next blog will be about food.... I promise


  1. I'm loving all your posts, but I particularly loved this one - more please! I want to know all about the work you're doing. How are you getting on with persuading parents of the possibilities?

    Love, Juliet xxx

  2. Hi Juliet, thanks for commenting. More on the way, when blogspot allows....
    The works slow but great - teaching staff and parents how to help children with disabilities maximise their potential. Persuasion seems to happen over a lot of time, and with parents seeing small changes. And teaching is proving to only be effective if I really get to know what people don't know. This experience is teaching me that developement work can rarely just be a quick intervention. Are you in this field of work? Lucy