The Orphanage has two children with special needs, a boy Loc and a girl, Han. Loc is a four year old boy with hydrocephilis, his head is swollen with excess fluid, making it larger than those of the other children. Loc is an absolute hero of a child. A little boy who loves to talk, laugh, play and sing, his antics are hilareous, he will have full and long conversations with volunteers, passionately explaining his views, apausing for emphasis, gesturing, listening carefully and thoughtfully to the response. This little boy is not stopped by the fact that he speaks not a word of English and usually the person he is conversing with speaks very little Vietnamese. He sings and performs Vietnamese folk songs in the style of a drunk Irishman in a bar, stamping his feet, clapping his hands, gesturing around the room, oblivious to the joy and laughter in response. As the children play a game climbing in and out of the bars of the orphanage gates, Loc joins in without fail, his enthusiasm undampened by the inevitable and repeated jamming of his head in the bars. Loc blesses all the volunteers with his warmness, open welcome arms, his friendship and his sense of fun, for me he gave me the gift of knowledge that a child with special needs is the same as any child. Loc is a normal little boy, a very special, very normal little boy.
Han is a little girl with more challenging disabilities. Her feet were not straight and she could not support her own weight, needing a wheelchair to get around. Her hands had not developed like the other children’s, she had to work harder to grasp or hold. If this little girls body was broken, her mind and spirit were absolutely not. Han was a girl with smiles for everyone, a girl who just wanted to play like everyone else. She did not complain about being crammed into awkward positions for balance, so long as she could sit with the other children and play. She was a little bigger than the other children, maybe four or five years old, and her pyjamas were black and white horizontal stripes, like a prisoner. She slept in a bed with metal bars around it, to stop her falling and hurting herself. This little girl smiled, communicated and the other children played with her and chatted with her unaware of any difference. When play moved from inside to outside, a tiny pair of arms from a body too small to see over Han’s chair, would push her outside too. She was adopted by a family of brothers and sisters with special needs waiting for her, they had chosen her to join their family. I knew this spirited and positive little girl would flourish with them and that they would be forever rewarded with her joy.