Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Vietnam News

Vietnam's national English-language newspaper, Vietnam News ran and uplifting story about Thien Nhan. Here it is: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=01OWN290408

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Visiting Danang Hospital

Yesterday, Mai Anh, Nghin and the three kids all drove from Danang to Tam Thanh District to obtain more paperwork for Thien Nhan's passport application. As those of you with kids can imagine, a three-hour drive (in each direction) with three boys aged eight, three and 20 months involved a LOT of noise.

On the way, the family stopped off at the Danang Hospital and met some of the doctors who had tended to Thien Nhan when he'd been brought in as a newborn, shortly after the dog attack. One doctor, Dr. Quoc Huynh Hieu, described the traditional Vietnamese Naming Ceremony that staff and local monks had organized when Thien Nhan was one month old. The hospital has kept an album of photos recording this event.

Dr. Hieu said that: "We came up with that name [which means 'Good Person'] so that Thien Nhan would be a good-natured person even though his start in life was so difficult".

Thursday, April 24, 2008

$10,500 and counting...

A GIANT thanks to all of you who've donated to giving Thien Nhan a brighter future. As of one week ago he had received over US$10,500! For details, please scroll to the bottom - and note that the list is already outdated and incomplete... We'll update it asap!


We finally received images of Thien Nhan's injuries taken on April 11 at Samitivej Hospital, Bangkok, and have forwarded these scans to doctors in the US and Hong Kong. The wonderful people at War Legacies have introduced Thien Nhan to the Shriner Hospital in Boston, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that they will agree to do the initial surgery that needs on his urethra for free...

Beach Baby

At present, Thien Nhan is listed in Mai Anh's passport, but he'll need a passport of his own to travel overseas for surgery. As usual in Vietnam, this means more paperwork, and some documents can only be obtained back in his birth village in Quang Nam province. Nghin and Mai Anh decided to make a holiday of it, and have taken Big Minh, Little Minh and Thien Nhan to the beach near Danang. Everyone's curious to see whether or not Thien Nhan will enjoy swimming. It's his first-ever trip to the ocean.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Prosthetic Care

Made of hard plastic, Thien Nhan's low-tech leg is causing him a great deal of discomfort. We're hoping to find a better, softer option for him. He also needs regular physio-therapy sessions to prevent his stump from becoming immobile.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Song & Dance

Thien Nhan loves music. Whenever his big brother Minh starts to play the piano, or there's music on the TV or radio, Thien Nhan waves his hands around and "dances". He's able to haul himself up onto the piano bench to accompany his brother, and loves to sing along.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Snowed Under

Elka and Mai Anh are swamped with work, and frantically trying to track down leads to doctors and write thank you letters. So far, donations to Thien Nhan have ranged from VND50,000 (US$3) to S$5,000 (about US$3,500)--and every cent is appreciated. We'll add it all up soon and post figures...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thien Nhan finds Facebook

After hearing of Thien Nhan's plight, South African singer/songwriter Anna Koningh started a Facebook group called "Good Person" in his honor All Facebookers can check it out and join up at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=12257389063&ref=mf


Monday, April 14, 2008

Big Changes

It's exactly one month since Thien Nhan was adopted, and what a difference that month has made! "He was like a wild animal, with no idea what toys were for, and he didn't know how to eat anything except bananas and cold rice," recalls Mai Anh.

Today, eager to make up for lost time, Thien Nhan is eating everything that he can get his hands onto. "We need to be careful or he will get too fat," says Mai Anh. When Nhan was fitted for his first prosthetic leg 2.5 weeks ago, the doctors estimated that it would fit him for two months. But Nhan has gained so much weight and grown so fast that his prosthetic limb is already getting too tight and too short. So it's back to VietCot --the GTZ-funded institute that's supporting his prosthetic care--for adjustments...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Baby Steps

Thien Nhan adores his new dad, Nghin. When Nghin leaves for work, Thien Nhan cries, and when he comes home, Thien Nhan crawls to the front door to meet him.
Every day Thien Nhan has to spend a few hours practicing to walk on his new prosthetic leg--an ordeal for everyone in the family. It's hard to convince a 20-month-old baby that strapping on this cumbersome contraption is in his best interest. But of course he must persist. And with time, he'll get the hang of it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bangkok Baby

Thien Nhan is enjoying his first trip overseas and has been really well behaved so far. He'll spend most of the day undergoing tests at Bangkok's Samitivej Hospital.

A lot of donations have been coming in from Singapore and Hong Kong. Thanks to everyone who has helped to give Thien Nhan a brighter future!

International Attention

Efforts to get Thien Nhan some international publicity have paid off with a great AFP article. Thanks to everyone who has helped to spread the word so far...


Thursday, April 10, 2008

More paperwork...

While Thien Nhan spent the day practicing walking, Mai Anh was busy trying to obtain his first passport--and trying to get her regular work done. Their flight to Bangkok leaves tomorrow morning, so time is tight...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Thien Nhan's new family is busy preparing to take Thien Nhan to Bangkok, where he'll see a pediatric surgeon, a urologist and a plastic surgeon this Saturday. Mai Anh went to get Thien Nhan's first passport this morning, while Nghin made a rushed trip back to Thien Nhan's birth village last night (a 1.5-hour flight followed by a 2.5-hour drive) to obtain some paperwork.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Thien Nhan needs surgery on his urethra as soon as possible. His small, exposed penile opening makes urination painful and leaves him prone to infection. The doctors he's been seeing in Hanoi recommend that he go elsewhere to see a specialist, so we're looking into hospitals in Bangkok (a center for genital plastic surgery). He needs tests and x-rays to determine the extent of the internal damage to his penis.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Touching support

Mai Anh and Nghin been overwhelmed by the public's response to recent stories about Thien Nhan in the Vietnamese media. More than 175 people have emailed to offer help and praise for their kindness, and many have stopped by their home in Hanoi's Old Quarter to visit.

One elderly woman who lives in the countryside, in Hanoi for an eye operation to save her vision, insisted on visiting Thien Nhan before her surgery for fear that something would go wrong and she'd be unable to see him. Despite her obvious poverty, she gave Thien Nhan VND100,000 ($6.25). "I know she couldn't afford to give us that," says Mai Anh. "But when I tried not to take it she was hurt." When this kind lady wakes up from her eye surgery, Mai Anh will take Thien Nhan to the hospital to visit her.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Emails Are Flooding In

After Thien Nhan's story got picked up by http://vnexpress.net/Vietnam/Xa-hoi/2008/04/3BA00E68/ we've received more than 100 emails. People from as far afield as the United States, Norway and Singapore are offering support and help to the little guy. We've now opened a bank account for Thien Nhan (details to the left) and will post regular updates of donations and how the money is being spent.

Thanks to all of you!

Elka & Mai Anh

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Lots of Love

A Vietnamese-language article about Thien Nhan that ran in yesterday's Lao Dong newspaper generated a lot of feedback, with many people emailing us to offer help and to wish Thien Nhan well. We're hoping that more publications will pick up his story.

Weather report

It's raining in Hanoi, and the change in weather causes Thien Nhan's leg stump to ache, which makes it hard for him to sleep. Although he's been tired and cranky, Thien Nhan has to persist with his daily walking lessons, overseen by his Uncle Hoan. Last week, the technicians at VietCot extended Thien Nhan's prosthetic leg by several centimeters to keep up with his growth.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Step Up

After spending much of the past two weeks at VietCot, Thien Nhan received his first prosthetic leg yesterday. Crafted by hand, the leg needed a lot of fine-tuning, and will only fit for an estimated two months.

While Mai Anh and the many doctors and technicians involved are relieved that he now has a well-fitting prosthetic, Thien Nhan's hard work has just begun. He's going to need regular lessons - and a lot of courage, determination and encouragement - to get the hang of his new limb. Wish him well!