Ho Thi Dom has never wanted anything more than to be able to walk on her own foot, but once believed that it would remain a distant dream.
Dom is the 15-year-old schoolgirl who has been hopping to school every day for the last nine years, after nearly losing her entire right leg in a fire related accident.
When first published by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper exactly one year ago, the girl’s story of courage and optimism touched the hearts of many.
Dom, who comes from the mountainous Phuoc Son District in the central province of Quang Nam, and who has also lost her father, has since received both spiritual and material support from people all over the world.
All have been moved at the sight of this courageous little girl, defying her disability to make four-kilometer slopes-filled journey to school every day.
Donations have allowed Dom to afford her education, but there remains one thing she badly needs: a right leg the same as everybody else’s.
Once she is able to walk on her own foot, Dom says she would walk to school every day, and then go out to help her mother with other chores and the gardening. Dom says she would never give up on anything if it will bring her the leg she wishes for.
Even though the little girl was convinced it was an impossible dream, when the first day of summer came, a charity group visited her home, and brought along a piece of news that would change her life forever.
Dream comes true
Seven members of the charity “Motor Scholarship”, established by Vietnamese writer Nguyen Dong Thuc, came to meet Dom that day, informing her that they had raised enough money to give her a brand new leg.
“We waited until the school year had ended to offer Dom a surgery that would restore her deformed right leg,” Thuc said.
Dom accepted the offer without hesitation, as it took her a step closer to her dream of a normal life.
As Dom was accepted to a local high school, she asked for a gap year, before then joining the charity at nearby Da Nang City in order to prepare for the surgery.
When a doctor in Da Nang told Dom that it was possible to restore her right leg, the 15-year-old girl burst into tears.
This was the first time people had seen this brave girl cry, as she had been holding back her tears for such a long time.
80 percent recovered
Tuoi Tre visited Dom while she was continuing her treatment at the Da Nang orthopaedics hospital, three months after undergoing the surgery.
The little girl has grown up a lot since the last time your correspondents met her. Her daily routine at the hospital is to practice walking with a pair of metal crutches along the corridor, and studying her 10th grade curriculum.
Whenever she falls, Dom ignores the pain and quickly stands up, continuing to walk with the help of crutches.
“It has been more than three months since my admission here and I have been fighting with the pain all alone ever since,” Dom told Tuoi Tre.
There were nights when she was forced to hold back her tears out of homesickness.
What inspires her to keep going is that she “can really feel my right leg recovering,” Dom happily shared.
The body part Dom once thought would never move again is now showing signs of rebirth, convincing the girl that “the day I am able to walk on my own foot is not too far away.”
Doctor Van Ngoc Ky, who takes care of Dom, is also upbeat about her recovery.
“Following hours-long surgeries and skin transplants, we have been able to recover 80 percent of her leg,” the doctor told Tuoi Tre.
Ky added that Dom will have to undergo one more knee joint surgery, “then she will be able to start learning to walk on her own foot without the crutches.”
Dom said that once she can walk normally, she will return to school and “pursuit education for as long as I can.”
“Attending college and becoming a teacher to the younger generation in the land I was born and grew up in is my biggest dream,” she added.