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Huyen


Huyen
Originally uploaded by interplast

My Tho, Vietnam-Teresa Olson, Interplast development coordinator.

Today we operated on 2-year-old Huyen. When I first met this adorable little girl she stood out from the crowd because she was so shy. Her endearing smile worked itself into my heart in seconds. When her mother rolled up Huyen's sleeves I was surprised at the severity of her deformity. She had no functioning fingers. Our surgeons discussed for a long time how they could help this young girl; Huyen's hands would never be fully functional. Finally the surgeons asked Huyen's mom what she hoped for from this surgery. Tears welled in my eyes as Huyen's mom explained all she wanted for Huyen was for her to be able to lift a spoon to feed herself or hold a pencil so she could attend school. That is the biggest miracle she could hope for. After today’s surgery she will be able to do both of those things. Life will not be easy for Huyen, but it is not without hope.

Tu’s Second Chance



Originally uploaded by interplast

My Tho, Vietnam-Teresa Olson, Interplast development coordinator.

We have been in My Tho now for a little over a week. The team has gotten the routine down, and it is giving me more time to go and meet with some of the families. It is touching to see the mother's bright smiles when I come into the room. The children, too often weary from surgery are surprisingly happy and energetic. Today I met a young woman named Tu. She is 20 years old and incredibly beautiful. She had already received a surgery for her cleft palate over a decade ago, but the wound did not heal correctly and she was still very embarrassed about the deformity in her lip and nose. I was overwhelmed with sadness when I learned that Tu had dropped out of school in the 10th grade because she knew that even with a diploma she would not be hired by any larger company (which pays more) because of her deformity. She now works at a fish canning factory for very little money. She has wanted to have this surgery for many years now, but to pay for it herself would cost three years of her wages. Tu is afraid to speak to strangers because they stare at her lip. She is also afraid to be in a relationship because she believes it will only cause her pain. Her life, thus far, has been filled with rejection. Her hope, now, is that this surgery will make her more confident and allow her to build a better life for herself.

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