13-year old Giang and his mother came to the Interplast clinic from Cai Lay, about 2 hours' bus ride from My Tho. At age 11, Giang was playing with an older boy one afternoon. There was no power in their home at the time, and so the older boy lit a candle with alcohol. A huge flame burst forth, and instinctively reacting, the boy threw the candle away from him, in Giang's direction. It burnt Giang very badly, causing a large contracture and keloid scar on his right cheek, and burning badly his neck, chest, and arms. It also severely deformed his ears, which developed additional disfiguring keloids.
Translator Le Ha and I had a conversation with the boy as he sat alone and unsmiling, waiting for his surgery. I asked him if he went to school, and he replied that he stopped one year ago. Le Ha asked why and he answered because the children make fun of him. Giang's father left the family long ago, and Giang's mother is a rice farmer. Now Giang helps her in the fields instead of attending school.
To see more of Giang, Susan, and other doctors, patients and helpers from Cusco, check out the My Tho, Vietnam surgical trip blog.