I couldn’t believe it when Trinh translated what she said. “She’s never owned a toy?!” I said, incredulous. Trinh was just as shocked and had had to ask her 4 or 5 times to ensure she understood correctly.

Trang’s mom explains “She’s never owned a toy”. She continues “Her Dad passed away when she was 6 years old because he drank a lot. She has never had a toy. Sometimes she sees it and asks me to buy it for her but I don’t have money.”

I’m not usually one to believe in fate but it just so happened that a friend from the Netherlands had given us a handmade doll her mother made. She told us to give it to a kid that really needed it. I think this fit the bill. So, at 9 years old, we gave Trang her very first toy.

“Everyday she asks me for money to buy milk and bread. About 10k (45 cents) every morning. She stays at school at noon, so I have to prepare food for her. Sometimes I just have rice for her. Her teacher tells me that I should put other food too. The other kids have their dads, so they have rat meat and other meat. But hers passed away.” Trang’s mom explains. They have so little money that some days Trang just eats rice for lunch, and with no father, they don’t have anyone to trap rats in the forest (rats it seems are a common source of meat in their small village in the mountains).

The silver lining is that Trang received her first toy, and was simply elated. She followed us around the village skipping happily, holding her new doll.

We have also decided to print her photo and make postcards to sell and raise money for her and her village, with 100% of all money made going directly back to them. We’ve already sold some postcards, so it’s a good start. We look forward to the day we can go back to her village and help them more!

Y Trang, 9 years old
Gie Trieng Ethnic Group
Central Highlands, Vietnam

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