Tran Duong is 9 years old boy. He was born in Go Cong Dong, Tien Giang Province, Vietnam. He innately has no arms and became “famous” by using his feet to study.
As many disabled children, Duong has been slowly growing about physic and intellect! He could not stand when he was 2 years old. Due to having no arms, he could not hold anything to stand up by himself. Until he was able to straightly stand up, the other kids were running everywhere. It took him 2 years to practice stepping. But he had always been fallen to ground after a few steps.
In whole of his body, there are pains everywhere – scraped, even spilt forehead that so serious that his parents had to take him to hospital. He still had fallen down and bled before he was 5 years old, the family was very afraid of influence to his brain or to be lost mind. The others have helped him in many things, esspecially in his personal hygiene.
It is only 1 km from his house to school, but it has many of mussy rice-fields and 2 foot-bridges which lying over the rivers. For his six school years, his mother has to drop off and pick up him everyday. His uniform shirt is always wet because of sweat as soon as he comes to class. At 12h30 PM, the sound of drum signs that school starts, his mother hurriedly uses handkerchief to wipe her son’s face. She can’t help being sad to see Duong continuously bending down his body to coat the sweat in very old trousers. He almost has never been absent for school.
Class 3/4 has a wood table that long about 1 meter which is specially designated for Duong. The chair is lower than surface of table 4 inches, an enough distance for Duong to bend right-leg up to write. After sitting on his table, Duong turns his body to raise his two legs in order to carry out learning tools, as fast as his friends who have two hands to do that. Duong can neatly write very fast and his writing is really nice, even better than writing of many classmate and higher grades pupils of Gia Thuan Elementary School. Last year, many teachers at school did not suppose that Duong could keep going up over grade 1.
Teacher Phan Thi My was among those who helped Duong to write first letters in his life. She tells: “I had already known about Duong when he was in kindergarten. His mom said to me that he really loves going to school, love learning. I found in disabled boy an ambition to study. So, I could not say a word but nodded my head in agreement”. Actually, it was easy to agree, but after a few classes, Ms. My was about to send him home because at first, he was not able to pick a chalk or a pen by feet.
To this pupil, My determined to take chalk, carefully put it between Duong‘s two toes. Both of them spent two months to practice only this action. “Put a chalk into his toes, I had hardly finished a sentence, the chalk fallen down. When he could maintain the chalk, then the pen fallen down. Sometime when coming back home, remembering about Duong made me feel very discouraged. But when going to class, I see him completely wrapped up in practice, I was in high spirit again.”
After two months with lesson of “holding pen”, My started teaching Duong to write the first and the most easily letter “O”. Spending a tense moment of clenching tooth, biting lips and bending legs, Duong wrote the letter “O” look somewhat long like a seed or like a square. The first school year made his toes become callous but the first letters were formed. Nowadays, Duong steadily has handled every subject, even drawing. Duong draws as nice as writing. He just gives up handicraft classes because the scissor handle is too small for his toes.
At the end of first school year, the school board reported his result to District Education Department, but there were nobody there believes in. So, they decided to inspect this special case. Until they had witnessed Duong fluently reading, writing and calculating not worse than any pupil, they amazed to confirm his result.
He has been able to playing soccer with other children, eventually use his feet to catch worms. Last raining season, Duong surprised his parents when bringing to home a ripper-crab even bigger than his foot.
Duong has suffered many losses in life. But he never gives a damn in difficult times. I see a brave man inside a disabled boy. I see a beautiful dignity in Duong, enthusiastically studying to be an useful person in society. I have ever given up many obstacles, I’m afraid of facing difficulties. What I have had more than Duong is being abound. But what Duong has had more than me is willingness to confront the fates.
To many people. my inspirational man is not as famous as Canadian Terry Fox, he did not do great things as The Princess Diana. He is still living, studying with an insufficient body. But I believe that with such endeavor, Duong would go further and further in future road, not only for himself but also will brighten his family‘s life.

“I hope in someday when my legs could replace the arms that I don’t have…”

An Nguyen (Edmonton, Alberta)