January 9, 2023
GIA LAI — The extraordinary energy of a young man without limbs in the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Gia Lai has made people admire him and see the value of life.
Being born without limbs and having to walk on his knees on mountain roads to school did not defeat the will of Nay Djruêng, a Jrai ethnic man, in Krông Năng Commune of Krông Pa District.
Not only is he overcoming his adversity, but now that powerful young man is able to help other poor children in the village.
Although war has receded for a long time, the consequences it left behind for the people in Krông Năng Commune still persist. The impact of Agent Orange remains, leading to sadness in many families here.
Nay Djruêng’s family is one of many victims of the war.
During the American War, Nay Djruêng’s parents were both armed militia operating in an area that was sprayed with a toxic chemical known as Agent Orange by the US Air Force, and they were exposed to its harmful consequences, which include deformities in offspring.
So, when Nay Djruêng’s brother was born with a deformity, he was euthanised. His sister was lucky that her limbs were better, so she was allowed to live.
In 1994, Nay Djruêng’s was born without limbs, which scared the whole village. His parents were forced to euthanise him because they thought he would bring bad luck to the village.
Fortunately, his life was saved by his uncle who had a decisive voice in the village.
“My mother told me that at that time, my uncle said that he couldn’t kill his nephew,” Nay Djruêng recalled emotionally.
The journey of the life of the boy Nay Djruêng started from there.
The older he got, the more he realised that he was different from everyone else. He was always sad and lonely.
The children in the village avoided him and thought he was the son of a forest ghost.
Even so, that boy was like a tall pine tree, overcoming the stares and discrimination of everyone. Although his appearance was not perfect, people felt from Nay Djruêng a warm heart that loved animals and plants.
When he was eight years old, Nay Djruêng asked his family to send him to school. The distance from home to school was only a few kilometers, but every day, his knees were bleeding and festering because he had to walk on his knees. Sometimes the boy without limbs had to crawl down a steep rocky road. The dream of studying and going to school was the driving force that helped him overcome everything.
Over time, Nay Djruêng’s knees were calloused which helped him cross the bumpy, mountain roads easier.
“No matter how much pain I had to bear, I never complained or shed tears. But what made my heart hurt was the discriminatory eyes, and words that alienated me,” he told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper. “No matter how much I felt sad and pitiful, there was always a will inside me pushing me to rise up, to not surrender to fate.”
“Learning to read was extremely difficult because I had to use my elbows to clasp the pen to write,” he said.
In fourth grade, Nay Djruêng was given prosthetic legs by the Red Cross Society, which meant a lot to him. With new legs, he stood taller and more confident with everyone and participated in school activities.
Possessing a beautiful voice helped him win second prize in a singing contest organised by the district.
With a kind heart, smile and warm voice, the boy gained everyone’s love.
After graduating from high school, he was admitted to a boarding school for ethnic minorities and since then, Nay Djruêng has gradually determined that his goal was to study information technology.
When he passed the admission exam to Information Technology College in Đà Nẵng City, his parents were so happy that they went to every house in the village to inform the news.
New doors opened to Nay Djruêng.
Currently, he is working as a programmer for a website in HCM City after graduating from the college.
The boy of the Tây Nguyên mountains is a symbol and pride of the people of Krong Pa Commune as he fulfils his dreams and inspires everyone.
“I always try every day to realise my dream of building a playground and work space to serve people with disabilities,” he said.
“Therefore, I am trying to create a communication channel as a place for people with disabilities to exchange and share life experiences as well as stories to overcome difficulties together. The stories will transmit an energy to help people love and do meaningful things in this life,” he said.
Since 2014, he has carried out the charity programme Tiếp sức tới trường (Supporting the Journey to School), then he changed the name of the fund to Đi qua mùa rẫy·(Going Through the Upland Harvest Season) with the hope that after each crop, children would still be able to go to school without having to drop out.
To carry out the programme, he raised funds from benefactors and friends, and asked people to donate old textbooks and gifts to poor students at Trần Hưng Đạo Primary and Secondary School in Krông Nang Commune and Đinh Tiên Hoàng High School.
At every opening ceremony of the new school year, he comes to the schools to give gifts and share his stories with students.
Nay Djrueng was honoured with the “Most Inspiring”, and “Youth Dedication to the Community” awards in 2020 by the Vietnamese Volunteer Community.
“I hope young people will do meaningful things, even small things for society,” he said. “My biggest wish now is to make a small contribution to help the children of my village to study, experience life and not just have to go in the fields every day.” — VNS