WHEELS OF HOPE IN VIETNAM

As I wandered down the alleyway to his home, I knew I was about to meet someone special. I heard about him from my guide and friend Ms. Thuy. The special man is Nguyen Trung. Born in Central Vietnam in 1949, today he lives in Hanoi with his wife and their eight-year-old son.

At the age of two, Trung developed polio. At that time only basic medical treatment was available. Wanting to improve his sons mobility, Trung's father ordered a custom made tricycle from a local blacksmith. His first wheelchair came from Germany in 1975, which he found awkward and uncomfortable. After using several poorly designed wheelchairs, Trung began to think he could produce a better model himself. In 1995 he was chosen to participate in a welfare project and impressed the organizers with the small home workshop.

After two years and using most of his personal funds, he completed his first wheelchair. At first people were wary of a wheelchair built by a disabled man, but as people saw him using the chair, his first orders started to come in. Trung has now completed over 30 wheelchairs. He has 5 different designs which he builds after seeing photos of the recipiant. The Hanoi handicap society as well as friends like Ms. Thuy inform Trung of potential recipients. One wheelchair costs $100 U.S. Trung often donates the wheelchairs, as his aim is to help those less fortunate. He continues to work fulltime to help subsidize his operations.

I was delighted to order 4 wheelchairs from Trung with funds raised through the sale of Vietnamese handicrafts and generous donations made by my mother Doreen Burrows and her friend, Audrey Cinar. As part of Eldertreks ongoing commitment to helping others throughout the world, I am pleased to announce that for each Vietnam departure Eldertreks will purchase a wheelchair on behalf of the group.

Thank you Trung for fulfilling your vision and improving the quality of life for so many.

Story by Roger Burrows, ElderTreks Tour Leader

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