Leaving work at 7 AM, Quang Hung(*)’s grandparents rushed to take him to the Ho Chi Minh City Children’s Hospital in time for the Care to Rise program’s health examination. Seven-year-old Quang Hung, who lives in Binh Chanh, is the only son of their first daughter who died from Covid-19.

While still alive, Quang Hung’s mother worked at a confectionery company in Binh Chanh. The mother and son lived together in a small rented house, in the same complex as the boy’s grandparents and aunt. Although her monthly income was only about 4-5 million dong, the mother single-handedly took care of everything in the house, from raising Quang Hung, to taking care of her grandparents and younger sister. At the time of the Covid-19 outbreak in August 2021, more than 50 households in the residence were infected. “The day his mother was taken to the hospital, an old man living in the same area was also taken away, but only he returned, not my daughter,” Hung’s grandmother said, wiping her tears.

After his mother died, Quang Hung was raised by his grandparents. In the first days without his mother, the boy cried all the time because he missed her. Up to now, his mental health has somewhat improved. He has gone back to school and made new friends, yet he is determined not to leave the old boarding house where his mother and he used to live. “My mother is just sick, I will be here to wait for her to come back”, Hung insisted, still holding his mother’s memento. His grandparents love him very much, but they don’t know what to do other than comply with his wishes.

Every day, Hung’s grandmother works as a dishwasher and prepares vegetables at a restaurant, earning only 100,000 VND/day. His grandfather works as a construction worker, but he is also at risk of losing his income. Hung’s aunt is 18 years old and has epilepsy. When she is conscious, she expresses deep love for Hung, but she also chases and beats Hung whenever she has a seizure. Difficulties piled up when on the last Tet holiday, the grandfather unfortunately fell and broke his cervical vertebrae, which cost 50 million VND to treat. Although he has not completely recovered, Hung’s grandfather has returned to work to support his family for several months now.

Putting aside the pain to continue writing the future

The chubby boy with big round eyes and a bright face has just completed grade 1 this year. According to his teacher, he is very studious, agile, and gifted in Math. Every day, his grandparents get up very early, take care of their aunt who has epilepsy, and take Quang Hung to school. Although both are about to turn 60, the boy’s grandparents still have to try to put aside the pain of losing their daughter to build the future for their young grandson.

Through the “Care to Rise” program conducted by VCF and Ho Chi Minh City Youth Union, volunteers paid visits, conducted home surveys, and planned specific pathways for more than 2,000 orphans and disadvantaged children affected by the pandemic in Ho Chi Minh City, including Quang Hung. Through survey and assessment of each case, the program has been designing a comprehensive care plan in terms of health, nutrition, learning, and psychology for each child until they become adults.

At the end of April, during the screening and treatment for children affected by the Covid-19 pandemic at Ho Chi Minh City Children’s Hospital, Quang Hung received a general health examination, dental check-up, eye examination, and psychological examination, musculoskeletal examination, and physical therapy. Physically, Quang Hung is completely healthy. For psychological issues, the Care to Rise program has planned to work with doctors to evaluate and provide a suitable treatment plan for the child. At the same time, the program will provide an annual scholarship to help his family cover part of the tuition fees. In addition, the program will also organize tutoring classes during the summer to further support Hung’s studies.

Together with the support of local authorities, partners, and sponsors, the Care to Rise program is committed to providing opportunities to improve health and education for Quang Hung as well as thousands of orphans in Ho Chi Minh City. This support will help the children grow up healthily and happily with their loved ones, encourage them to strive to reach their potential in life, and become useful citizens of society.

(*) The character’s name was changed.

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