Thu was just 12 years old when he lost his leg. One day, he was looking after his cows when he stepped on an unexploded land mine.
“War is most terrible with great loss. At the end of the war, there are still consequences such as unexploded ordnance, causing many losses, casualties and death,” Thu says.
Thu lives in the Quảng Trị province, located on the Northern Central Coast of Vietnam. Situated along the demilitarised zone that divided Vietnam, the province was one of the most heavily bombed areas during the Vietnam War and is considered one of the most polluted provinces in terms of unexploded ordinances (UXOs) in Vietnam.
In addition to being the breadwinner for his family, Thu had to take on the role of caring for his wife, Linh, after she suffered a stroke.
She is my wife and we have been living together and depending on each other, I am the one to be there with her and for her.
"She almost lost herself after the stroke and had to lean on me. I could understand how she felt because I had experienced the same at the age of 12 after a landmine accident took one of my legs," Thu said.
Determined to turn their lives around, Thu and Linh joined the Empowerment of People with Disabilities program, run by Caritas Australia’s local partner in Vietnam, the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD).
The Empowerment of People with Disabilities program supports people living with disabilities to establish Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLA) so that they can access affordable loans. Through the VSLA he was able to obtain a low-interest loan, which he used to open his own barber shop on a new road that was constructed near his home.
For Thu, the greatest impact that the program has had is seeing the change in Linh’s physical and mental wellbeing. With the support of a physiotherapist, Linh can now walk short distances with the aid of a walking stick.
"I am grateful to Caritas Australia for the help they give to people living with disability like me and my wife,” Thu says. “Thank you to Caritas Australia and the Australian people."
Along with your generous support, this program is also supported by the Australian Government, through Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).