Busi­ness­man gives hope to dis­abled

Viet Nam News - - Expat Corner - Nguyeãn Khaùnh Chi

Jump­ing off his seven-seat car, Juer­gen Eich­horn un­loaded a 50kg sack of rice, his back bend­ing a bit as he car­ried the load in­side the Haûi Döông Blind As­so­ci­a­tion’s build­ing.

“The do­na­tion comes from a lo­cal rice dealer ev­ery month. The rice is to feed the chil­dren here,” the Ger­man said, sweat­ing all over his fore­head and chin.

To­day as usual, Eich­horn comes to visit, brings some other lo­gis­tic sup­plies to the As­so­ci­a­tion which ac­com­mo­dates about 60 blind chil­dren, many of whom are dis­abled due to the ef­fects of Agent Orange.

When­ever Eich­horn vis­its the cen­tre, he not only checks this or that, to make sure the chil­dren are in an ac­cept­able con­di­tion, but he plays with them, tries to crack jokes and some­times give them a type of re­lax­ing mas­sage - a ther­apy which is said to par­tic­u­larly help the dis­abled.

“That is hard to say. In fact, I love chil­dren and I feel great giv­ing them a help­ing hand. To talk and play with them makes me feel even bet­ter,” said Eich­horn.

Haø, his Viet­namese wife, does the same and many of the spon­sors too will be vis­it­ing Vieät Nam soon to spend time there and take care of the chil­dren and help the teach­ers.

As a busi­ness­man who first ar­rived in Vieät Nam in 1999 due to his post­ing for an in­ter­na­tional com­pany, Eich­horn did not think the place would be his home for­ever.

Years later, the life and his work in the north­ern province of Haûi Döông made him fall in love with the land and peo­ple here. This is also the place he re­alised where there are so many un­der­priv­i­leged peo­ple who need a help­ing hand. That is how he be­gan his ac­tiv­i­ties in 2008.

Through dif­fer­ent chan­nels and ways, Eich­horn and some of his friends have been able to col­lect al­most US$400,000. They have also set up a web site http:// www.star­sofviet­nam.net/ to reach out to more char­i­ties, and let them know about those who are in need. The char­ity project also gets a UNESCO seal.

“We had Lothar Bal­tr­usch and his wife Ker­stin here early this year. At the mo­ment Mrs Pe­tra Haage is here. She is a spe­cial teacher for hand­i­capped chil­dren and those with down syn­drome. She will help the teach­ers in the blind chil­dren’s cen­tre to learn about that and im­prove their work,” said the fa­ther of a four-year-old girl.

“She is the spon­sor of a girl named Hoa who could not speak, read or write a year ago. Since the teach­ers spent more time with the chil­dren Hoa learned talk­ing, read­ing and writ­ing. She can now un­der­stand a bit of English. For us this is a great suc­cess.”

Not only blind chil­dren, Eich­horn and Stars of Vieät Nam also take care for peo­ple who are vic­tims of Agent Orange, both young and old.

Thaønh is a vic­tim of Agent Orange. When he was 12 years old he was a nor­mal boy who played foot­ball and other sports. Then the de­fect struck, and to­day he can move his hands, but not his legs, back, or shoul­ders.

Luck­ily enough, his hands were par­tic­u­larly help­ful for this young artist, who lives some 30km away from Haûi Döông City.

“ We sell his paint­ings in Europe [through post­ings on Stars of Vieät Nam web­site and Face­book page] and we help him as much as pos­si­ble. To­day he is 30 years old. We have also been able to build a spe­cial three-wheeler for him.”

“Thaønh once said a sen­tence that rep­re­sented all of us. ‘You show me that I’m worth some­thing. I thought I was hu­man waste’. That was tough to hear,” Jeur­gen said.

“Jeur­gen par­tic­u­larly cares about the ed­u­ca­tion, life and ac­com­mo­da­tions for the kids. If he no­tices a lack of fa­cil­i­ties and equip­ment that may af­fect these ac­tiv­i­ties, he tries to call for do­na­tions to add to them,” said Phaïm Vaân Höông, an English teacher at the As­so­ci­a­tion.

“There is no dif­fer­ence be­tween bene­fac­tors and ben­e­fi­cia­ries. Juer­gen al­ways treats the chil­dren as if they are fam­ily mem­bers, equal with­out any dif­fer­ences,” the young teacher added.

“Through Jeur­gen and Stars of Vieät Nam, many more peo­ple all over the world know about us. We couldn’t have reached so many peo­ple out there, even if we had enough money,” said Höông.

Höông said 27 out of the chil­dren here are cur­rently spon­sored by for­eign donors. Each ben­e­fi­ciary re­ceives a monthly stipend from VNÑ600,000 to VNÑ2 mil­lion ($28 to $95), some of which is spent on their daily needs, with the re­main­der go­ing into sav­ings.

“He tries to pro­vide them phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual as­sis­tance. At this very mo­ment, he is con­cerned most about the con­struc­tion of a new house for the chil­dren to re­place this old and weak build­ing,” added Höông.

In 2013, the old build­ing al­most col­lapsed. Eich­horn man­aged to sta­bilise it with steel beams. Un­der­stand­ing their ur­gent need, the provin­cial Peo­ple’s Com­mit­tee agreed to give Stars of Vieät Nam a piece of land to build a new chil­dren’s home, which is ex­pected to be ready next year.

“Un­til now, we col­lected 130,000 euro ($175,000). It’s enough to start, but not enough to fin­ish the job,” noted Eich­horn.

With the new idea to sell bricks to spon­sors through the Buy a Brick and Build the Fu­ture mini-project, they have suc­cess­fully raised about 4,000 Euro in a few weeks.

“In the com­ing months, we will “de­sign” the fu­ture for 100 blind chil­dren. I guess this goal is big and we will han­dle that,” pre­dicts Eich­horn. —

— VNS Photo Khaùnh Chi

Help­ing hand: Ger­man busi­ness­man Juer­gen Eich­horn spends time with blind chil­dren at the Haûi Döông Blind As­so­ci­a­tion. Eich­horn has used do­na­tions he raised from lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional spon­sors to pro­vide as­sis­tance.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Viet Nam

© PressReader. All rights reserved.