Photographing in the northern part of Vietnam, Hanoi and San La regions, I was able to meet Vietnamese women, many belonging to the Black Thai and Hmong cultures.My impressions of the women were that they epitomize the meaning of strength and beauty. Let me give an example.
While in Son La I met a woman amputee that had received a prosthesis several years ago from Mobility Outreach International, a medical NGO that I was traveling with. Leo Thi Chai is a Black Thai woman. She came to the hospital where our group was examining patients to say hello and give thanks to the orthopedic doctor in our group.
Her story is amazing. She and her husband are farmers living in a remote hill area of North Vietnam. Leo lost her leg in a motorcycle accident shortly after she was married. Her husband’s family shunned her after the accident because she would be a burden on the family. For three years Leo carried out her life as best as possible without a prosthesis. She used a crutch to get around. During this time Leo became pregnant and gave birth to a child. But, the amazing part of this story is that she began to deliver while everyone in her village was out in the fields – far away. She had to deliver her own baby – and that was a breach delivery! She pulled the baby from her body by tying torn rags to the baby’s legs. The baby lived and today both are well and healthy.
Her husband’s family realized what a strong woman she is. This is truly an example of strength and beauty!!
Here are a couple of photos of Leo today while visiting us at the hospital in Son La, Vietnam
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