The 4th Annual Scar of Life event held May 15 to raise funds for poor children with congenital heart disease was a success for all involved. Ms. Ngo Thanh Van hosted the event for Heartbeat Vietnam, a program of VinaCapital Foundation, at the grand TajmaSago Castle in Ho Chi Minh City. Over 200 guests enjoyed the gourmet food and breathtaking venue while entertained by Dam Vinh Hung, Linh Nga and My Linh.
The disadvantaged children are the greatest beneficiaries as the enthusiastic guests lined up to bid on auction items donated, along with the food, venue and entertainment, to raise funds for heart surgeries. The personal jewelry of Ms. Van’s as well as the Longines watch were the major auction items but large contributions were also made for the 25 silent auction items.
At the end of the night $144,800 was raised in total- enough to save the lives of 145 children. VinaCapital Foundation and Heartbeat Vietnam are grateful to Ms. Ngo Thanh Van and her Vietnam Artist Agency team, all the entertainers, our 200 guests and our sponsors- KhaiSilk, TajmaSago Castle, BMW, Longines, Moevenpick Hotel, Vietnam Airlines, Emirates, IDP, Yen Viet and many others for making the Scar of Life 4 a night to remember for the children of Vietnam.
Please see more pictures below:
“When I received the information from Heartbeat Vietnam that the number of children with congenital heart disease provided heart surgery was decreasing due to the worldwide economic problems, I suddenly realized that the chances for those kids on the waiting list to have a life were also decreasing day by day and their dreams were blown away also. I wish I could tell them the truth that: “Sweeties, there will be no dream come true! No doctor, no engineer, no teacher, no police, no lawyer…or any other dreams! For you, just survive or not. Will you be able to get through this week, this month, or this year? Will you be one of a few lucky children who will be saved? So, sweeties, no more dreams please!” But for me it was unacceptable to say so! Nothing in this world can stop children from dreaming even though they might be just broken dreams.” – Quoted from Ngo Thanh Van’s “heart letter” about the concept of the “Scar of Life” event this year: THE DREAMS.
Ngo Thanh Van has planned a very special evening on May 15th with a cultural show featuring 4 performances by dancer Linh Nga and Bong Sen show team, and featuring singers Dam Vinh Hung and My Linh. Guests will be delighted by a delicious buffet and cocktails as guests of Mr. Khai at the elegant Tajmasago Castle in District 7. This will be an evening to remember for years to come, we hope you can join us.
Heartbeat Vietnam, a program of The VinaCapital Foundation (VCF), began in 2006 by saving poor children who needed heart surgery, on child at a time. Up to now, Heartbeat Vietnam has saved 3,111 children afflicted with heart disease in 18 hospitals throughout 63 provinces around Vietnam.
Heartbeat Vietnam program is proud to have actress Ngo Thanh Van as the Program Ambassador. She works with all enthusiasm to organize the “Scar of Life” events every year. Since 2010, the “Scar of Life” events have saved 575 children. The event always has a new, fresh concept each year for the same and simple purpose: save more and more children until one day no child has to die of congenital heart disease in Vietnam.
Ticket for the event this year: $500 a pair
For more details or reservation, please contact us at +84 8 3827 8787 or email to Ms. Thu: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Val Monk is one of our generous donors and the founder of 1000miles2work initiative in the UK to raise money for heart children in Vietnam. Her enthusiasm and her effort have inspired lots of people. Together with friends and partners, she has brought new life to 12 Vietnamese children so far.
This year, year of the Snake, Ms. Val Monk has come up with an idea to raise more money. The idea involves racing half way around the world: The virtual London to Ho Chi Minh Team Relay Race! This is going to be an epic virtual adventure, the ultimate endurance challenge that doesn’t need a backpack. You just need to create or join a team then cycle, row, spin, jog, skate or swim in a 9,000 mile virtual team relay race across the map against other teams. Val named her idea “Pumped”.
You may ask “Why get Pumped?”, then the answer from her is quite simple and obvious: Life is too short and all that…
VinaCapital Foundation will match any money raised by Pumped two or three times to pay for heart surgery for children whose parents simply cannot afford to pay for it. So that, with only $1,000 you raise through Pumped you can save 1 precious life. It’s that easy. Last year, Val and Thomas and Nick committed to cycling 1000 miles to work each. They raised over $10,000 which turned into $33,527.25 and paid for twelve operations.
As we ride/run/swim the sponsorship will pay for operations to happen as soon as possible and so during the race we will see the money, and lives, mount up. There is nothing happy like an email letting you know that an operation was successful!
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s visit the website and register at www.pumped.org.uk
On January 27th and 29th 2013, the VinaCapital Foundation program team accompanied the convoy of Ironman Foundation bicycle riders to visit three disadvantaged families in Long An province, families who have had children with congenital heart disease. Before the Lunar New Year Mr. Todd Gilmore and his Ironman crew bicycled 70 kilometers to visit and celebrate the lifesaving surgeries that they provided for these poor children.
The first trip was on January 27th 2013. Todd and his 10 companions departed at dawn and rode 40-kilometers to reach the first destination, Nguyễn Thanh Tùng’s family. At 7.30 am, the VinaCapital Foundation team joined the convoy at Tan Thanh ferry in Can Giuoc district. The atmosphere there was overwhelmed with the excitement as the two teams came together. The scene of foreigners biking on the road brought a brand new image to the people of Can Giuoc.
When the convoy reached the Tung’s alley, they were surprised when Tung’s grandmother was waiting for group in the sun-baked weather. She wanted to greet her grandchild’s heart donors. The grandmother bursts to tears when she told the group about the family condition and difficulties. At Tung’s house, the air was full of warmth, thankfulness and happiness. Despite the long distance, Todd’s and the teams’ faces were full of happiness because of the joy they had brought to Tung’s family.
On behalf of the biking team, Todd presented his regards to Tung’s family. Todd and Rod, another Ironman Biker, talked to Tung and his family in Vietnamese. The story became more touching when the crew found out that Tung lost his birth mother when he was a little child. His birth mother died of the same heart disease that Tung had before his surgery.
The team was surprised to learn that due to the complications from heart disease Tung had brain surgery when he was in 3rd grade. However, at that time, Tung’s family did not know that he had congenital heart disease. When we visited Tung’s family, Tung’s father was not present because he works far away from home. Every day, Tung’s father travels more than 60 kilometers to work in Ho Chi Minh City. He is a bricklayer with the uncertain and unstable income.
Two months after heart surgery, Tung has made a full recovery from the operation. He is about to return to school to meet his teachers and friends after a long time struggling with the disease. While having a conversation with Todd, Tung said in shyness that singing is his little hobby. With the new healthy heart and new life, hopefully Tung will always raise his voice in song and make his dreams come true.
On January 29th, the crew continued the journey to Long An to visit two other children, Nguyễn Thị Cẩm Linh and Lê Ngọc Bảo Trân. At Tran’s house, both mother and father have to go to work. There was only Tran’s grandmother and older sister are at home. The family was so happy to meet the Heartbeat Vietnam and Ironman convoy of people who saved Tran’s life. Tran is a lovely girl who always smiles. Everybody loves Tran’s laughter that fills the house. Looking at this bright little girl’s face, no one would know that she had to bear the pain that disease brought to her. Leaving the house, the team was happy because one could see and feel the healthy life and happiness on little Tran’s face.
The crew moved to Cam Linh’s family. Her father works far away also so that we only met her grandmother and mother. Linh impressed us a lot. She has a lovely smile. She is also gifted with artistic talent. Meeting Linh, it was difficult for the team to believe that only 2 months before she was weak, bedridden and crippled with congenital heart disease.
The Long An Heartbeat Vietnam/Ironman bicycle road trip of January 27th and 29th ended joyfully for every member of the crew because Todd Gilmore and his Ironman friends brought three children new life and hope for a future.
On behalf of Heartbeat Vietnam, the three children, and their families, the VinaCapital Foundation cannot find adequate words to express our deep gratitude to Todd Gilmore and the Iron Man Foundation for saving these lives and families.
Today is January 31st and it’s not an usual day because today is the last day of the “Fight for Five Hearts” campaign. The campaign closed while 5 lives open.
“Fight for five hearts” is Heartbeat Vietnam’s campaign in partnership with Jetstar to save children who have been suffering congenital heart disease.This campaign started on November 1st 2012. This platform was quite new for the social network users in Vietnam. However, with the huge support from our ambassadors: 365daBand, actress Ninh Duong Lan Ngoc, singer MiA; our partners: MobiVi, Jetstar; and our friends, we were confident to finish this small journey.
Before closing this campaign, Heartbeat Vietnam team would like to give big thanks to 365daBand, actress Ninh Duong Lan Ngoc, singer MiA, MobiVi, Jetstar and all of you for being with the “Fight for Five Hearts” campaign to this moment. Together we have saved 5 out of 20,000 heart kids in Vietnam. Hope that we are still together on the bigger journey.
Here are some descriptions and pictures of two children of the campaign:
Nguyen Ngoc Chau (2010) – Dong Hoang commune, Tien Hai district, Thai Binh province
After catching pneumonia when he was only 7 months, Ngoc Chau and his family discovered his congenital heart condition. When his parents took him to the National Hospital of Pediatric and Cardiovascular Center – E Hospital for treatment, they received none for his condition. Although Chau needs a heart operation as soon as possible, his surgery cost is out of his family’s financial reach. Both of his parents are temporary workers for a small garment company. Their combined incomes are about 143 USD/month, an unstable amount that fluctuates every month. The family’s limited income puts the surgery’s cost out of reach. Chau is now living with his parents and his grandmother in a small modest house just 20m2 in size. Chau has been battling his congenital heart disease for 2 years, and his health continues to deteriorate with fevers, coughs and fatigue becoming too common.
Ly Thi Yen (2008) – Ban Duoc, Hoa Binh, Binh Gia, Lang Son
Little Yen is Nung, is one of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities, and lives with her family in a remote mountainous area of Lang Son province. When she was two months old, Yen started coughing constantly, had reoccurring high fevers, developed black fingertips from lack of oxygen, and significant loss of appetite. Yen’s family brought her to the local clinic where she was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. In attempt to restore some vitality to her tired body, the clinic provided antibiotics, protein, and saline. It would be the first of many trips for Yen: repetitive loss of breath and exhaustion necessitated Yen being almost a permanent fixture at the clinic.
Watching their granddaughter struggle daily with the disease emotionally drained Yen’s grandparents. Complicating matters and increasing their anxieties, Yen’s family speaks Kinh, the Nung’s own dialect, making it difficult for the family to understand Yen’s disease.
Yen’s family house is built with coconut leaves. The surrounding three hectares of rice paddies are the only means of income for the family, including Yen’s elder sister, younger brother, parents, and grandparents. There are more than a few days when the family does not have enough money for food. Additionally, there is no means of transportation for the family, and the local market–the one to Yen’s home—is a half-day away. The provincial hospital is not any closer. Yen’s family’s bleak financial means and distance from the closest surgical hospital makes Yen completely dependent upon the generosity of philanthropists, the government, and the community for her survival.
In the afternoon of December 28th 2012, our ambassadors and MobiVi,a company of mobile payment services, together with us, VinaCapital Foundation, visited the first child of “Fight for five hearts” campaign. His name is Bui Minh Quan, from Khanh Hoa province. He is 10 months old, he really looked healthy after the surgery. Sometimes, he smiled although three days before he got a fever.
We brought some gifts to him. Especially, our ambassadors: 365 da Band and singer MiA got a big teddy bear (it was even bigger than baby Quan) and wishes from actress Ninh Duong Lan Ngoc. She couldn’t come due to her schedule but she was very happy to hear about Quan. She promises to visit other children of the campaign.
2012 ends with happiness for baby Quan’s family and for us as well. We would like to send a BIG THANK to our ambassadors, to Phu Song Yeu Thuong-a program of MobiVi, to Jetstar and to everyone for your great kind support!
There are 4 children of our campaign and a thousands from everywhere in Vietnam still waiting for miracle. It is our pleasure to be with you on the way to save heart children through our Facebook campaign, please click on this link and keep saving more kids: https://apps.facebook.com/phusongyeuthuong/?cam=hanhdongvinamtraitim
On December 7th, 2012, VinaCapital Foundation accompanied with University Medical Center (UMC) to bring an outreach program to poor children in Can Tho and surrounding provinces. UMC team included: Dr Nguyen Anh Dung, Cardiac surgeon, deputy of Cardiac Dept Dr Luong Cong Hieu, Cardiac surgeon Dr Nguyen Dinh Dai Khanh, cardiologist Cardiac nurse, Le Thi Ngoc Lien Cardiac nurse, Nguyen Thi Bich Chi There were also two volunteers from Singapore, Samuel Oh and Daniel Oh joined the team.
We have prepared for the trip since the end of October. We had a detailed itinerary that indicated job for each person. For those who join this program for the first time, they must be excited and yes, that was the feeling of some of us. November 7th, after lunch, we went to Can Tho. There was heavy traffic jam, our bus moved little by little and we arrived finally at 6 PM. However, everyone was in good mood and was eager to see the children the following day. November 8th, the outreach started at 7h30 in the Can Tho Central Hospital. It was supposed to be 150 patients coming to the outreach but in fact, there were 113 cases screened this time. It was a small number compared with numbers from other outreaches in other provinces but cases here were more severe. Base on the statistic, among 61 children brought to the screening, 33 children (that meant more than 50%) need surgery. 33 families know what they have to do but they don’t know how to do without money. Children, little bodies, have suffered pains day by day because of heart disease. Some of them even suffered lack of love from their parents because they were abandoned. Those children have lived with their grandparents or aunt or uncle. Maybe I have good imagination but there is sadness in their eyes… The checking process had three steps for patients with heart disease: General check by Dr. Dung/Dr. Hieu → Ultrasound test by Dr. Khanh → Final advice by Dr.Dung/Dr.Hieu The atmosphere of the ultrasound room was filled with sadness and worry since almost patients coming to this step were diagnosed with cardiac disease. Right here we have listened to touching stories from the patients. We shared with them to alleviate their depression.
Doctors and nurses of UMC were very enthusiastic. They checked each case as carefully as they could to ensure they got the accuracy results. Being tired and sick, some kids cried and one baby even refused to be checked. Doctor Khanh advised his parents to bring him to the University Medical Center for free ultrasound testing.
Time was passing by and it was nearly 5 PM, patients and their families got worried because the closed time was coming, but we promised not to leave until finishing our work. We left Can Tho at 6 PM brought along case histories and images of kids with purple lips, black fingers. We know we have to work harder to help them!
One of stories impressed us a lot was the story about Phan Van Phong, ten-year-old boy, lives in Vinh Thanh province. His appearance caught my eyes: he looked thin and pale, he was wearing a long sleeve shirt with a trousers and the special thing was that his face expressed no feeling. We tried to talk with him but he was not willing to respond. His father had to explain more for the questions we asked him. Phong is the first child in family, he has two other siblings. His parents are freelancing labor so their income is low and unstable. Phong should have been in the 5th grade but because of bad health, he cannot walk to school. It takes 1 hour for him to go to school on foot! Although his mind is strong, the body is not strong enough to stand it everyday. We asked about his dream as the last question and he said that he dreams of a healthy heart because he loves school, he loves knowledge and more important thing is that he would like to be a doctor! It is a good dream and should be encouraged.
Samuel Oh, 17 years old, a student of Catholic Junior College and Daniel Oh, 14 years old, a student of Fairfield Methodish School have interned shortly at VinaCapital Foundation. They joined the outreach in Can Tho province and visited children at Heart Institute while they were in their internship. Below is their report:
“On 8th December 2012, my brother and I tagged along with the VinaCapital Foundation crew, volunteers as well as nurses and doctors to observe a heart screening drive for needy rural children living in Can Tho and the surrounding provinces. The main aim of the campaign would be to identify children who are suffering from congenital heart deformities so as the treatment, rehabilitation and necessary funding can be arranged for them.
The turn-out for the screening drive was as expected with about 150 children who came here together with their family. Majority of the families were already waiting at the hospital lobby before the opening time of 7.30 am. There was a sort of system in place where the patients were issued queue numbers to indicate their position in the line. However, the registration and the 1st step of the screening was still a very messy process. It was very noisy with parents chatting loudly among each other and the administrative staff had a hard time trying to announce the queue numbers over the racket, even with the aid of the megaphone. The children who do not pass the 1st screening test would then proceed on to another wing of the hospital and have a cardiac ultrasound done to confirm and diagnose the problem.
There was a drastic change in the atmosphere in the 2nd waiting area. Gone were all the country folks discussing their day to day business, the gossiping among the women and children playing in jovial ignorance. In its place instead were sombre looking parents with worry lines all over their faces, fidgeting nervously while trying to comfort and nurse their child amid the melancholic silence. This is where we decided to conduct most of the interviews as it seemed that perhaps some conversation could lighten the spirits by putting their mind somewhere else and we could find the type of stories we were looking for. The parents were accommodating and graciously granted us the permission to interview them. Some of the children we interviewed were very visibly sick, with clammy looking skin, dark eye bags and their extremities tinged with an unhealthy purple. The doctor and nurses operating the ultrasound equipment were very efficient, systematically tending to patient after patient with a deft diagnosis.
There is a stark contrast between provincial hospitals to the tertiary hospitals I have been to in Ho Chi Minh City. There is no tastefully decorated reception lounge; neither is there the perky receptionist nor the immaculately landscaped gardens. The provincial hospital’s design was designed for functionality and nothing else. One thing that striked me was the condition the waiting area outside the ultrasound room was in, many of the walls were stained with unsightly black patches and the furniture would have seen better days. The room did not smell particularly pleasant either, probably due to the lack of air circulation in there. I am sure the other rooms in the hospital would also be in no better condition. On the other hand, some of the equipment like the ultrasound machine is quite new and according to the director of the hospital, they are currently able to cope with the number of patients being admitted to the hospital and do not seem to be short staffed. This suggests that the hospital is of sufficient capacity and they do have adequate funds to keep the hospital running at bare minimum. However, there is not enough for some needed renovation, touching up of the premises or perhaps even the contraptions needed to perform the more complicated surgeries.
As all the necessary equipment is already available in the Can Tho provincial hospital, the doctors there should be trained on how to diagnose the children who are suffering from heart diseases. So that in the future, the heart specialists in Ho Chi Minh City do not have to waste 8 hours on travelling just to diagnose the children who might have heart disease. Their expertise could better utilised if they were to actually perform the heart surgeries as that would require the skill and experience the doctors there do not possess. Doctors in the Can Tho hospital should already have a list of children who need surgery and have them ready when the heart specialists from Ho Chi Minh City come over.
From our interviews, we found out that many of the parents found out about this free screening via police officers who helped spread the message. This is good method as the law enforcement would cover a very wide network in the country. However, there is a limit to the reach of the word of mouth and some of the information might become distorted along the way. Thus, some children would never receive the treatment they need simply due to miscommunication. One better way to spread the message could be via text message. From my observation, many of the locals own at least one mobile phone as they are cheap and readily available. Telecommunication companies such as Mobifone and Viettel can be roped in to help send out mass SMSs to disseminate information of the free heart screening to the people living in the more remote areas. One advantage of using text messages is that it is fast, efficient and has a wide reach so that more people can find out about this campaign. Cost would also be a limiting factor again but perhaps the telecom companies would be willing to subsidise a portion of the cost as it is for a good cause.
A problem also identified is that some of the children were already diagnosed with heart disease but the parents are unable to do anything about it due to financial constraints. Many having to wait for rare opportunities like this time’s heart screening campaign before they are able to reach out for help. Doctors in the rural areas should be able to highlight the children with such ailments to the authorities so they can be treated as soon as possible, hence preventing any further complications that might arise. A website can be set up so that the doctors are able to register the children who need medical attention and arrangements can be made as soon as possible.
I am very grateful for this wonderful opportunity to be able to observe this outreach screening clinic in this less glitzy and glamorous part of the world. Many of us city kids take healthcare for granted, oblivious to the plight tens of millions of children everywhere are in due to the lack of healthcare services or the ability to afford them. I was also able to interact with some of the primary sector workers, an opportunity I would otherwise not have if I were a tourist. This is also my first time seeing in real life, kids who are so sick that some of the infants do not even have the energy to cry. It is sad knowing that they might never have a normal childhood. I hope that through this trip, I know enough of these rural kids suffering from heart disease to be able to sell them back home (figuratively of course) and raise some funds for them. Perhaps the kids who benefited from this are able to live a happy normal life and work hard to escape from the cycle of poverty which has been plaguing the rural country side for generations.
We visited the Ho Chi Minh city Heart Institute on December 11th and even got to meet face to face with one of the most accomplished heart surgeons in the country. It was certainly an honour having someone of such stature and importance in the Vietnamese medical community take time off from his hectic schedule to show you around. However, the highlight of the entire trip was being able to enter the ICU of the heart hospital. Most of the patients in there were children recovering from their heart operation, with a handful of adults as well. There was a boy not even a year old at the far end of the ward who just had a surgery the day before. He was still in an induced coma and was hooked up to a respirator, his tiny chest expanding and contracting harshly to the mechanical rhythm. Another sight that will stay with me for a long time would be the countless tubes and contraptions sticking into most of the infant’s orfices, pumping him with vital fluids so he can stay alive. The mother of that child was also present at the hospital, however she seemed reluctant to go see her child together with us. She probably did not want to have an emotional breakdown in front of strangers seeing after her baby in such a state. Though you could still see that she was struggling to hold back her tears. She was very grateful and couldn’t stop expressing how thankful she was for the organisation’s help in saving her only child’s life. Even though we didn’t get to see any heart surgeries today, I am sure we will still have other opportunities to do so with the countless internships and work attachments available in Singapore.”
The Deck was bustling with people, products and personalities on the 24th of November. The Saigon Charity Bazaar was a huge success with many people arriving to explore and buy products from all the different vendors. This time we made 100 bandanas with a Heartbeat Vietnam design. We distributed them to vendors and it was fantastic to see all the different ways people approached it; we saw bandanas on people’s heads, wrists, arms and necks.
We caught up with regular and new faces while the people wandered around the stalls buying Christmas presents and indulging in merchandises from great jams, jewellery and home ware from local and international designers. Overall there were 57 vendors crowded into this great venue. The atmosphere was outstanding as the afternoon progressed with people packed into this place and yet it did not feel crowded but exciting. This time there was even a kid’s corner with face painting and colouring tables!
Next to the Heartbeat Vietnam table was a booth dedicated to the Thien Tam organisation for disabled people. One boy named Hoang from this organisation held a workshop before the bazaar to teach people how to create fabric flowers. What was so touching about this boy was the fact that he was both deaf and dumb and still was able to teach 6 other people this skill; He charged them all 50,000 VND. When finally the end of the day came around, he came over to the table and donated all the funds that he raised to us. It was touching to know and see that everyone from different situations are selfless enough to help save another’s life.
To add to the atmosphere, Roos Wruimer and her band played throughout the afternoon until nightfall. The whole place was spectacular and at the end of the night 40,033,000 dong went towards Heartbeat Vietnam who were sponsored at this bazaar. We are very grateful for their continued efforts in the past and hopefully in many years to come. We would also like to thanks all the sponsors of the event and the Deck for hosting such a great afternoon!
“Thanks in advance for your ongoing support to the charities, every bazaar gives a few children a new heart and a new life all thanks to you!” – Saigon Charity Bazaar