Thursday, May 28, 2009

In Trouble

In Vietnam, the school term just ended and kids are starting summer holidays. Although Thien Nhan isn't even 3 (his birthday is July 15th) he got an end-of-year report. At his parent-teacher interview, Nhan's preschool teacher reported that the tot "can't sit still."

"The teacher recommended that he work with his hands as he is very skillful at taking things apart and putting them back together again," says Nhan's mom, Mai Anh. The teacher went on to complain that, whenever groups of important visitors (like school inspectors) stop by, Thien Nhan makes a gun out of lego and pretends to shoot them.

"She said that none of the other kids know how to make lego guns," said Mai Anh. Since firearm toys are illegal in Vietnam, Thien Nhan's design skills weren't appreciated!
[The photo shows Thien Nhan (far left) with his brothers Big Minh and Little Minh]

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Preparing for Round Two of Surgery

The recent discovery that Thien Nhan, who will turn 3 in July, has two undescended testicles has lent new urgency to his situation. If left inside the body for too long, his testicles may become damaged. Most infants born with this condition undergo corrective surgery within their first year.

When Thien Nhan was attacked by wild animals at birth, he suffered so much genital damage that doctors were unaware that his testicles remained inside his body. "That he still has his testicles is another miracle," says the boy's mom, Mai Anh. "We hope that this will enable him to forego hormone replacement drugs, and even to father children one day."

Spurred by this stunning discovery, Seattle-based charity Kids Without Borders and American philanthropist Greig Craft are working hard to arrange for Thien Nhan's next surgery. His first genital surgery took place at Dartmouth, NH in the USA last August.

All being well, this autumn surgeons will construct a scrotum from Thien Nhan's own skin, bring down his testicles, further dilate his urethra, and extract the one third of his penis that is now tucked up inside his skin. This is major and highly specialized urethral and plastic surgery. The expenses and logistics are considerable.

Ongoing fundraising efforts are being led by Kids Without Borders and the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, which is founded and managed by Greig Craft. For more information, please visit or

To date, much of the financial help received by Thien Nhan has hailed from Singapore, largely thanks to the heroic efforts of Singapore Straits Times cartoonist Lee Chee Chew, who has raised more than US$50,000 for the tot. To see Mr. Lee's artwork and donor list, please visit:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Life Lessons

These days, Thien Nhan is very talkative. His mom, Mai Anh, reports that Nhan, who will turn 3 in July, "chats constantly". A very bright and inquisitive little boy, he is currently obsessed with dinosaurs (see his favorite shirt!)

Most afternoons, Thien Nhan and his brothers go to a nearby park to get some fresh air and exercise. Passerby often stop to make a fuss of little Nhan, who is something of a celebrity in Vietnam. Mai Anh worries that all of the attention will go to the tot's head. "Of course I want him to feel confident," she says. "But I also want to be sure he is not spoiled!"

Although her kids are still small, Mai Anh is determined to teach them about helping others. "I hope that Thien Nhan will grow up and do good things for others in the same way that people have joined to help him now," she says.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Help for Little Manh

On April 22nd we posted a brief report about Manh, a little Vietnamese boy who had endured years of domestic violence, then been terribly burned when his drunken dad set the family home on fire, killing himself and Manh's mother.

Sam, a Canadian-based aid worker involved with aiding little Manh, just sent the following note:

Thanks to the posting about Manh on the Thien Nhan blog, I've just got Ms Kelly Song's offer to help with his education. She is a Korean woman who lives in Singapore. Isn't that fantastic? Manh has just had his operation a few weeks ago at Hue Central Hospital with help from the US New-Yok based Tran Tien Foundation of Dr Sung Tran. Manh is such a courageous boy. Chi Minh Minh of Les Amis De Hue has been walking with Manh and connected him to Tran Tien Foundation.

Thank you Ms. Song! Anyone else who wishes to know more about Manh, please visit If you are willing to help this brave little boy, please email Sam at

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stair Master

Last weekend, Thien Nhan's family moved into a new house down a small alley near Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake. Nhan's mom, Mai Anh, was worried that Nhan, who will turn 3 in July, would have trouble negotiating the steep, narrow stairs, as this house stands 3 storeys tall. "Within a day he could race to the top," she reports. "I caught him standing at the top of the stairs and daring his brother [Little Minh] to push him down! He isn't scared of anything!"

Once they were settled into their new home, Mai Anh took the three kids to the circus. Thien Nhan watched the acrobats for some minutes, then turned to his mom and said: "They're boring! I can jump, fall and roll so much better than that!"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Growing Up!

Check out this adorable video - - in which Thien Nhan recites a popular Vietnamese kids' poem about a little creeper vine.

Thien Nhan, who will turn 3 in July, has memorized the entire, long poem, which tells the story of a little potted creeper that sits indoors on a windowsill. Determined to feel the sun and the breeze on its leaves, the little creeper stretches itself out the window and climbs the wall of the house, braving the wind and rain.
Thien Nhan learned this verse at preschool. "He loves to sing too," says his mom, Mai Anh. "Nhan and Little Minh [Thien Nhan's brother, 4] rarely stop chattering."