Le Minh Chau was born in Dong Nai in 1991 with a rare disability believed to be caused by his mother's exposure to Agent Orange/Dioxin. His family was unable to care for him so he grew up at the Lang Hoa Binh (Peace Village) center in Ho Chi Minh City. Chau found passion in drawing at an early age and had a dream to become an artist. However, he was told that this dream was out of his reach for a person with his physical disabilities. After leaving the Peace village at 17 years old he manages to defy all odds and obstacles to reach his dream of becoming a professional artist.
Chau's story is beautifully told by director Courtney Marsh in a short documentary film that was nominated for an Oscar in 2015. The War Legacies Project is honored to be working with Courtney and her team at Chau: Beyond the Lines to help raise awareness and support for others in Vietnam like Chau to reach their dreams.
Chau: Beyond the Lines
“Chau taught me that if we focus on what we have, rather than what we don’t have, perhaps we too can achieve the seemingly impossible. That perseverance and persistence does pay off despite our setbacks. And, above all else, Agent Orange is not an issue of the past. It is very much one of the present and still affects millions in Vietnam and America today.” – Courtney Marsh, Director
Like Chau they have the determination – with your support they can also succeed.
Uyen Do (right) is 15 years old and is lives with her family in Ban Me Thuat, Vietnam. She has Osteogenesis Imperfecta which causes her brittle bones to break frequently. It has stunted her growth and made it impossible for her to walk on her own. Uyen Do's father or brother carry her to and from school each day but despite her physical obstacles she is one of the top students in her class. Her dream is to go to university. To make this possible she will need to have an electric wheelchair to enable her to move independently and she will need to utilize the services of a personal care-giver. She will also need financial support to pay for fees, books and living expenses. Help enable Uyen Do and others like her reach her dream.
“And as I finished this film, what I saw and began to believe was the truth of the unconquerable human spirit.” - Courtney Marsh
Unfortunately, many of the children in Vietnam have physical and/or cognitive disabilities that are so severe that dreams as bold as Chau’s are out of reach. However, for these children no matter how severe the disability impacting their lives, one witnesses their ‘unconquerable human spirit' on a daily basis.
You see it in the love they have for their family and their family for them. You witnesses this spirit in their ability to communicate with just a smile, their eyes, or a slight movement of their body. You see it in their efforts to learn to sit up, to walk or feed themselves.
More often than not their families are among the poorest of poor as their children require round-the-clock care prohibiting the family from earning a living wage.
You can make a difference one family at a time.
With your support the families can receive medical care or adaptive equipment for their child; they can increase their income through animal husbandry or a small home business; they can rebuild or repair their crumbling homes; or ensure their other children, that will one-day take over the care of their siblings, can stay in school or go to college.
Chau is just one of tens of thousands of children in Vietnam with disabilities believed to be caused by Agent Orange/Dioxin. Like Chau they are also tackling seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Some of the barriers to their success can be addressed with your help. Your donation can help pay for school fees to attend high school, university or art school; pay tuition and fees for vocational training programs, purchase a specialized motorbike or electric wheelchair to enable youths with disabilities to navigate their environment, help an entrepreneur to start a small business, and so much more.
Where to See the FIlm:
United Nations: 9th Conference of States Parties to the CRPD
Wednesday, June 15th, 2016 - 6:15pm
Gdansk DocFilm Festival (Poland)
Saturday, June 25th, 2016 - 5:30pm
Aspen Ideas Festival 2016: Spotlight Health
Saturday, June 25th, 2016 - 7:30pm