Wednesday, September 24, 2008

School Picnic

Check out the adorable short video of Thien Nhan's first day of preschool that his mom, Mai Anh, posted on Youtube -- . Since the clip was posted yesterday, more than 2,200 people have already watched Thien Nhan and his litte classmates engage in a make-believe picnic. At the start of the video Thien Nhan correctly identifies a plastic hot dog. "He ate lots of sausages when he was in the US," explains Mai Anh. "He loves them."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

First Day of School

Today was Thien Nhan's first day of school, courtesy of international Hanoi preschool Sunrise Kids, which has given the tot free tuition! Journalists from VN Express were on hand to film Thien Nhan's trip to school, which was made along with dad Nghinh and big brother, Little Minh, 3, who helped Thien Nhan to get ready and carried his satchel (pictured). The two brothers will study in the same class.

At school, Thien Nhan was thrilled to discover two choices of snacks--toast or rice porridge. While he could not join in the more active morning exercises he participated from the sidelines, copying the other kids and raising his arms and leg to the music. "I think he'll really enjoy school," said his mom Mai Anh. "He is very sociable and learns quickly."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thank You Saigon Yoga Mala!

Sunday's 2008 Saigon Yoga Mala was a terrific success with some 50 people of all nationalities coming together at Dancenter to raise US$1,200 for Thien Nhan! Thanks to Nicky Poole of Breathing Room Yoga ( for organizing this beautifully-run event; to Dancenter ( for providing such a fantastic, spacious venue; to Patricia and Michelle for teaching; to La Reunion des Marmites for supplying delicious restorative cakes; and to Pierre for his expert filming. "There was such great, positive energy at this event," said Elke, who collected the donations on Thien Nhan's behalf. "It was so moving to have all of those people eager to help this brave little boy."
(Top photo: Yoga teachers Nicky, Patricia & Michelle)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stretch & Shop!

As well as leaving you fit, energized and relaxed, tomorrow's Saigon Yoga Mala is a fantastic way to support Thien Nhan! Starting at 3pm, Nicky Poole of Breathing Room Yoga and other international volunteer yoga teachers will lead participants through a series of 108 sun salutations. Entry is via donation, with all proceeds going to support Thien Nhan.

To raise further funds for this special child, Elke Ray will be on hand to sell bubbafish toys. Founded and co-owned by Elke and Thien Nhan's adoptive mom Mai Anh, bubbafish produces quirky, handmade soft toys and baby accessories. Since 30% percent of bubbafish sales at the Yoga Mala will go to the Help Thien Nhan Fund, why not buy your Christmas presents early this year? This is your first chance to buy bubbafish's newest characters like Gertie the Goat (above, $10).

Where: Dancenter, 46/2 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh District, HCM City
When: Sunday, September 21st, 3pm (but come early for check-in)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Chew Love

Singaporean comic artist CC Lee has done it again, pulling in another US$2,112 (S$3,107) of donations for Thien Nhan from the kind people of Singapore! Lee then chipped in a lucky $88 to bring the sum up to $2,200. So far, this amazing cartoonist--who has yet to meet Thien Nhan--has raised close to US$17,000 for the tot from his fans and colleagues, plus chipped in over US$1,200 of his own cash. Thanks to CC Lee's and Singapore's continued support, Thien Nhan has lots to smile about!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Moon Cake Fun

Last Sunday, kids across Vietnam celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival, which typically involves lion dances, lantern processions and traditional games and sweets, including moon cakes. On this special night, Thien Nhan and his brothers Big Minh and Little Minh attended a party at the office of their mom, Mai Anh. Along with other traditional entertainments, the kids participated in a moon-cake-eating contest, in which they attempted to eat moon cakes that were strung on a rope. Despite having to balance on one leg throughout the game, guess who emerged the winner? Thien Nhan easily beat the competition, consuming a grand total of THREE mooncakes! "He's starting to look like a moon cake himself," joked mom Mai Anh. "There is nothing he will not eat!"Looking at the tot now, it's hard to believe that just six months ago Thien Nhan was malnourished, anemic and suffering from chronic diahrrea.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Play Time

Thien Nhan doesn't let the loss of his right leg stop him from having fun. The 2-year-old crawls very fast and can climb like a little monkey. To see more photos of Thien Nhan and his parents playing in a New Hampshire park, check out the photos of Barry Bland at the link below:

New Friends

Thien Nhan received overwhelming support from the American-Vietnamese community during his August trip for surgery in the US. "One family drove for a whole day all the way from Canada just to see him," recalls Thien Nhan's mom, Mai Anh. Everywhere they went, people recognized Thien Nhan from local press reports and showered him with attention, food and gifts. In this photo, the tot (left) poses with Dr. Tam Nguyen and his son Chan-Tam in the home of Cathy Lam, the family's gracious host during their stay in Orange County. No stranger to kids in need of help, Dr. Tam makes regular trips to Vietnam where he performs free-of-charge surgery for needy kids suffering from cleft palates and other facial irregularities.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Moving Pictures

Renowned photographer Barry Bland, best known for his wildlife photography, snapped some wonderful images of Thien Nhan when he met the toddler in New Hampshire, USA. To see more of Barry's work, visit his blog at As well as capturing some of what Thien Nhan has been through, these photos reveal the tot's strong character and irrepressible spirt.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Since Thien Nhan got home from the US late last week he's been inseperable from his 3-year-old brother, Little Minh, who'd stayed back in Hanoi. "When they met at the airport they hugged for a long time," says mom Mai Anh. "Now they play together non-stop and really stick together." Mai Anh also reports that Thien Nhan has been sleeping better since his urethral surgery.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Funny Money

A big THANK YOU to Singaporean comic artist CC Lee and to his many generous friends, colleagues and readers! Since hearing about Thien Nhan's plight in the Singapore Straits Times newspaper, CC Lee has collected US$14,803 for the tot from the kind people of Singapore, plus donated more than US$1,100 of his own money. CC Lee's latest collection drive raised S$2,080, or US$1,463, to which Lee then added US$237 to round the figure up to US$1,700. Special thanks to all monthly and repeat donors for their continued love and support for Thien Nhan! To see some more of CC Lee's comics, go to

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Back Home in Hanoi

Following a very successful trip to the US for urethral surgery and prosthetic care, Thien Nhan and his parents arrived back in Hanoi yesterday. After reuniting with Thien Nhan's brothers, Big Minh and Little Minh (Little Minh, 3, shown here with Mai Anh), the family's top priority was to get some traditional Vietnamese home-cooking. After all that rushing around in the US, mom Mai Anh's weight has dropped down to just 35kg! Thien Nhan, Mai Anh and dad Nghinh will spend the next few days recuperating from jetlag and eating all of their favorite dishes. . .

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Yoga Mala

On September 21st, UN International Peace Day, yoga communities around the world traditionally participate in the Yoga Mala charity event ( to raise money for worthy causes. We are thrilled that the Saigon Yoga Mala, hosted by Nicky Poole of Breathing Room Yoga (, has chosen to donate all proceeds towards Thien Nhan's ongoing medical care.

Both experienced yogis and beginners are welcome at this transformational yoga practice, which will take place at 3pm on Sunday, September 21st at Dancenter, 46/2 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh District, HCM City. Participants will be guided through 108 sun salutations, with plenty of time for rest, meditation and contemplation. Whether you're new to yoga or a longtime devotee, please come out and support Thien Nhan!

For more info, please email Nicky at

Monday, September 1, 2008

Step by Step

Son Michael Pham of Seattle-based Kids Without Borders, co-sponsors of Thien Nhan's trip to the US, snapped this photo of his wife Judy and Thien Nhan, engaged in conversation at their hosts' home in LA. Judy, speaking in English, was encouraging Thien Nhan to use his new walker, while Thien Nhan, speaking in Vietnamese, was saying that he wanted to do it himself and in his own way. Listening in on their conversation it was clear that Judy, who has taught special education for almost three decades, is an exceptional teacher, while Thien Nhan has the determination to achieve miracles.

On Sunday night Thien Nhan and his family bid farewell to US trip organisers Na Huong and Bac Sy ("Doctor") Greig, as Thien Nhan calls Greig Craft, who has accompanied the tot on so many of his medical appointments in Vietnam and the US. Leaving their family and work in Hanoi, Greig and Na Huong traveled 10,000 miles at their own expense to be with Thien Nhan every step of the way on his US journey. Thien Nhan and his parents are now looking forward to going home and reuniting with Thien Nhan's brothers--Big Minh, 8, and Little Minh, 3.