A couple in central Vietnam has carried their dioxin-infected son to school for the last fifteen years.
Le Dinh Mao, the father, said that during the Vietnam War he was in the army and in charge of repairing trucks traveling through the central part of the country, where the U.S. army sprayed tonnes of dioxins.
His third child, Le Van Thanh, was born paralyzed in 1993, after his first daughter had died two days after birth in 1981, which made Mao realize that he had been infected with dioxin during the war.
As a child Thanh lived with his mother in Ha Tinh Province, where she tied him to her body and carried him to school every day from grade one to grade four, when he was nine years old.
Thanh was then relocated to neighboring Nghe An Province when he entered grade five, and Mao has carried him to school since then.
Mao had to leave his post as foreman at the repair plant of a local military unit to spend more time helping Thanh to go to school and taking him to the hospital for treatment of his illness.
“He often carries Thanh on his back up and down several floors at our campus,” said Nguyen Minh My Linh, Thanh’s classmate at Vinh University, located in Nghe An.
Mao also brings his son to other extra-curricular activities so that Thanh can be a normal student like his peers.
“I have chosen to sacrifice so my son can have both knowledge and fun with friends,” Mao said.
“There are more than 50 students with disabilities at Vinh University, but Thanh was the only one to have been granted automatic admission to our school.
"He is exempt from paying tuition as a dioxin victim, in accordance with a government decree.
"Moreover, some of our lecturers are working on a customized curriculum for Thanh after hearing that Mao carries him to school every day.
"We want to give this special student more encouragement.”
(Dinh Xuan Khoa, president of Vinh University)