Mr. Nguyen Van Loc and Mrs. Le Thi Mit reside in Phuong An 2 Village of Cam Nghia Commune, Cam Lo District, Quang Tri Province. During the Vietnam War, Phuong An 2 Village was situated between Camp Carroll, an old artillery base, and a Special Forces base and airstrip at Mai Loc. Because of its location, the village was one of the first to be heavily sprayed with Agent Orange and other herbicides in the defoliation campaign knowns as Operation Ranch Hand. According to The Food & Environment Reporting Network, this area was subject to seven spraying missions in 11 months from September 1966 to August 1967 with a total of 14,350 gallons of Agent Orange, Agent White, and Agent Blue.
Phuong An 2 Village now has over 100 families but 20 of them have two or more children with birth defects believed to be related to their parents’ exposure to such defoliants. Because of this prevalence of Agent Orange victims, Phuong An 2 is dubbed an Agent Orange Village.
Mr. Loc and Mrs. Mit have four children. Their first child was born in 1971. He was a healthy boy, and today he works in Cam Nghia as a forester earning modest income to afford his own family. The second son followed in 1978 with severe physical and mental disabilities. He died four years later.
The couple’s third boy arrived in 1982, and a fourth in 1988, both with grotesque birth defects. Mrs. Mit thought perhaps a worm had eaten them. “It was like sugarcane with a pest inside,” Mit said. “Maybe the next crop would be better. But if one stalk has a problem, the next one may be infected too.” After 36 years of lying on the bed, moaning and grimacing, Nguyen Van Lanh, the third son, died in 2019.
Now the elderly couple has a round-the-clock burden of taking care of their youngest son, Nguyen Van Truong, who is pictured above with his parents. Like his elder brother, Truong cannot walk but crawls on the floor most of the time and totally depends on his elderly parents for everything from feeding to bathing.
During 2013-2018 RENEW approached the family and provided support in terms of a standard toilet facility and a breeding cow. However, in recent years the parents have had to pass on the cow to their eldest son, Nguyen Van Tinh, because they are too weak to tend the animal and they need to be with the disabled son all day long.
Mr. Loc and Mrs. Mit earn about 200,000 VND or eight U.S. dollars from selling jackfruit, black pepper, and chickens they grow and raise at home. In addition, the couple receive an additional disability allowance of 810,000 VND or 35 U.S. dollars from the government on a monthly basis. Despite the hardship, Mrs. Le Thi Mit is a resilient woman who tries to do everything she can to afford her family and to look after the disabled son. The only terror she has, Mrs. Mit said, is that since she and her husband are growing old, what will happen to their son when they are gone?
The house in which the family of three is sheltering was built 15 years ago thanks to support from various charity organizations and the local government. It has now become seriously degraded. The tile roof has many leaks so when it rains, water soaks the house, which frightens the mother and her son. The front yard, temporarily packed with hard dirt, and often flooded in rainy season, is too slippery for the elderly couple to walk safely back and forth from their house to tend their garden.
On the occasion of Father’s Day, RENEW is calling for support from our friends and supporters to help improve the home conditions for these elderly parents, to make their lives with disabilities more bearable. Based on the family’s urgent needs and RENEW’s estimate, with 75 million VND or US$ 3,200, RENEW can carry out the following actions:
Replace the old leaking tile roof with heat insulation tiles to prevent leaks in the upcoming rainy season, andPour a layer of 10-centimeter concrete to level the existing front yard and provide traction, making it safer for the family’s daily activities especially during rainy season.
Thank you so much for your consideration and support. Click here to make your donations in support of Mr. Loc and Mrs. Mit. Your donations will definitely make the life of this elderly couple more bearable.
The RENEW Team
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