Friday, October 31, 2008

Saigon Reunion

Following an eventful Friday morning marching to promote traffic safety in Saigon, Thien Nhan, his parents and big brother Little Minh enjoyed a festive dinner with some of Thien Nhan's loyal supporters in HCM City. Some 30 people attended this gathering.

On Saturday, Thien Nhan's mom Mai Anh met with Greig Craft and Na Huong of the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, Son Michael Pham of Kids Without Borders and Elke Ray of Bubbafish toys to map out fundraising activities for Thien Nhan over the coming months.

In preparation for Christmas, Elke and Mai Anh will be selling Bubbafish toys at various shops and markets in Vietnam, while Son Michael Pham is working on offering these cute toys in the USA. As well as employing deaf and disadvantaged female workers, Bubbafish uses a percentage of sales to fund Thien Nhan's medical care and to support other child-related projects in Vietnam. If anyone has leads to toy distributors/retail outlets overseas, Team Thien Nhan would love to hear from you! A small selection of bubbafish toys may be seen at

(The photo shows Greig Craft holding Thien Nhan, who slept through lunch.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thien Nhan Supports Traffic Safety

Early this morning, Thien Nhan joined actress Michelle Yeoh and hundreds of other participants at a rally outside the Presidential Palace in Ho Chi Minh City to raise awareness about traffic safety.

The actress and former Bond girl is Road Safety Ambassador for the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIPF), which co-organized the march together with the Vietnam National Traffic Safety Committee. One of AIPF’s key missions in Vietnam is to encourage the wearing of motorbike helmets, as motorbikes form the main mode of transport here.

Thien Nhan and his family flew down from Hanoi last night to attend the Saigon rally. They were keen to show their support for AIPF, which is headed by Greig Craft—the American man who organized Thien Nhan’s surgery in the United States last August. At the rally, the family was also reunited with Son Michael Pham of Seattle-based Kids Without Borders, who helped them no end during their USA trip.
"We brought Thien Nhan's walker so that he could join the march for a bit," reports mom, Mai Anh. "He hadn't slept very much so was a bit grumpy. But later he cheered up."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sick at Home

"Incredible Things", a song that composer Jazzy Da Lam wrote about Thien Nhan, was awarded first prize in the Bai Hat Vietnam song-writing contest. Sadly, Thien Nhan could not attend the awards ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday October 26th, as he was down with the flu. A sore throat and a high fever stopped the tot from flying. "We'd already bought the tickets but had to cancel the trip at the last minute," reports his disappointed mom, Mai Anh.

Thien Nhan's fever is down today but he is still at home recuperating. "The weather in Hanoi changed and it was very rainy this weekend," says Mai Anh. "Whenever there is a change in weather Thien Nhan's leg aches so he does not sleep well. And many kids have flu right now and he caught it too."

This week, representatives of the Bai Hat Vietnam song contest will visit Thien Nhan along with a TV crew. "It is a beautiful song," says Mai Anh. "We are very happy that it won and thank all of Thien Nhan's supporters."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Visiting the Countryside

Yesterday, Thien Nhan and his family drove four hours out of Hanoi to visit his adoptive dad Nghinh's ancestral home in honor of Nghinh's paternal grandfather's death anniversary. It was Thien Nhan's first trip to his paternal village, where dozens of relatives were waiting to meet him. "He was on his best behaviour and charmed all the old ladies, following them around and chattering," says Mai Anh. "They all wanted to feed him and he ate so much chao (rice porridge)." Today, the family prayed before their ancestral altar and visited Grandpa's grave. "Thien Nhan knew how to pray," reports Mai Anh. "He is really enjoying this trip to the countryside." [Photo shows Thien Nhan with his paternal grandmother.]

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thien Nhan's Special Song

The song "Incredible Things", written by composer Jazzy Da Lam [photo at right] to honor Thien Nhan's miraculous survival, was recently entered in the Bai Hat Vietnam song competition:

In just three days, "Incredible Things" received an amazing 14, 893 votes, way ahead of the second-place song at 1,810 votes. To learn more about this talented young composer, go to
What a special gift for Thien Nhan, who loves music!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Family Outing

Since Little Minh, 3, was feeling better, Mai Anh and Nghinh took all three kids to the amusement park outside Hanoi Children's Palace on Saturday morning. While Big Minh, 8, preferred the roller skating rink, Thien Nhan, 2, loved the merry-go-round. Last time Nghinh went on a fairground ride he got sick, so Mai Anh had to accompany Thien Nhan on all of the rides. "After five rounds on the merry-go round I felt drunk," says Mai Anh. "Thien Nhan wanted to keep going. He loves all those crazy rides so much. He is very strong!"

The photo shows Little Minh (right) and Thien Nhan (in dad's arms) wearing their Protec motorbike helmets.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Thien Nhan, 2, who is teething, was wrestling with his big brother, Little Minh, 3, yesterday and bit him, causing a bruised wrist and badly scraped finger. It was the culmination of a bad week for Little Minh who, as well as having a bad cold, recently received five stitches in his forehead and is still sporting a bandage. A scrape on his neck adds to his sorry appearance. "He looks like an old dishcloth," joked mom, Mai Anh.

After Thien Nhan bit his brother, their dad, Nghinh, locked himself and Nhan in another room until Thien Nhan apologized. Thien Nhan yelled so loudly to be released that Little Minh, his finger still bleeding, felt badly for him and said: "Please let him come out now! I forgive him!"

"Little Minh is teething and just felt like biting something," said Mai Anh. "Unfortunately he chose Little Minh's hand." Here's a photo of the duo on a better day!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hard Work

Thien Nhan was healthy enough to go back to preschool today. Following his afternoon nap, he spent an hour-long session with our wonderful volunteer physiotherapist Ulrika, who wrote the following about today's lesson:

"Today's practice went very well. TN was standing or walking with his walker for about 40 minutes in a row. For training balance in standing we did some LEGO while using the walker close to a table. We also played some football for more difficult balance training. TN was using his walker back to front, so that the open end was facing the ball. He was holding on to it, of course, but while trying to kick with his left leg he automaticly has to lean over towards the right which gives some good practice."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Under the Weather

Both Thien Nhan, 2, and his brother Little Minh, 3, are home from school sick today, with mild fevers and sniffles. Usually, Thien Nhan has physio sessions with Swedish physiotherapist Ulrike Urquart on Mondays and Thursdays, but today's lesson had to be cancelled. The tot was already feeling poorly during his last two physio lessons, and gave poor Ulrike--who volunteers her services-- a hard time.

"I wasn't as popular as the first time," said Ulrike. "Well, that's the challenge working with little kids. You can have a great plan for the meeting and then have to rethink. But that's what I love about my work."

"He was cranky and yelled at Ulrike a lot," said Thien Nhan's mom, Mai Anh. "He did not want to cooperate. But Ulrike is very good with him. We are so lucky to find her."

A Beautiful Visit

Miss Vietnam Mai Phuong Thuy stopped by Thien Nhan's house in Hanoi for a surprise visit yesterday. Miss Phuong Thuy had first met Thien Nhan on August 8th, a few days before the toddler left Vietnam to have surgery in the US. On that occasion the beauty queen had shared her birthday cake with Thien Nhan, cheering him up after a round of medical tests.

This time, the 20-year-old Miss chatted and played with Thien Nhan and his big brother, Little Minh, 3, who recently got five stitches in his forehead after crashing into a table. Miss Phuong Thuy reported being pleased to find Thien Nhan healthy, happy and getting bigger.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Big Bro!

Thien Nhan's eldest brother, Big Minh, celebrated his ninth birthday this week and mom Mai Anh bought a big chocolate cake for the occasion. After Minh blew out the candles, Little Minh, 3, and Thien Nhan, 2, each got a turn.

The three brothers then went to check out nearby toy shops so that Big Minh could select a toy for himself.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Another Step Forward

Swedish physiotherapist Ulrike Urquhart, who lives in Hanoi, has very kindly volunteered to work with Thien Nhan two days a week to help the tot to improve his strength and balance. Within moments of meeting, Ulrike and Thien Nhan were happily playing together, with language proving no obstacle. "They were very happy and natural together," says Thien Nhan's mom, Mai Anh. "It's wonderful. Thien Nhan can learn to walk and also learn some English too."