A family in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam has five of the ten members standing taller than two meters and so, locals call them the ‘family of giants’. In the country, the average height of a man is 1.6m and 1.55m for women.
Despite their dominance in size, all members of the family are illiterate and so, are poor. The family is living in Vinh Hau A Commune, Hoa Binh District of Bac Lieu Province.
They live in a small and low-roofed hut along the road built on a sea dike of the coastal locality, where the sunlight is scorching. Shrimp ponds in the area have been dried up to the bottom.
The couple Le Van Sua, 63, and his wife Tran Thi Lang, 60, have four sons and four daughters.
Among them, two daughters and two sons are 'giants', because of inheriting genes from their mother, all standing taller than two meters.
They are Le Thi Anh Hong, 40, and Le Thi Be Thu, 24; and two sons Le Van Lam, 34, and Le Van Lem, 32.
The other four and their father are of normal size, about 1.6m tall.
Now, the hut is the permanent residence of six because all four daughters married and moved to stay with their husbands’ families.
Thu, one of the 'giants' of the family, married a Chinese man and left Vietnam last year.
Five 'giants' in a poor family
The hut of six is ‘the house of love’ donated by local philanthropists, built with all metal sheets on the roof and four sides, and so it is very hot.
Inside the hut is just a wooden bed, without any chairs or tables.
On visiting the family, a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper journalist witnessed Lang lying huddling herself up on the bed while her husband and a son were eating instant noodles.
Lang almost got out of breath to tell her painful life story.
She married her husband about 40 years ago at age 20 through match-making, which was common at the time.
Inherting genetics from her grandfather, she was taller than 2.1m when she was 18 years old. Once she had thought that she would have never married anyone because no man in the area was taller than 1.8m.
During her childhood, instead of going to school, she had to work as a hired laborer or soak herself in rivers and flooded rice fields to catch fish and crab for food.
“I was a little bit embarrassed at seeing him, just a tiny guy. But I didn’t protest because I thought that is my fate in marriage,” Lang recalled.
“After marrying each other, we kept on working as hired workers. We did everything we were hired for money.
“And our children were born,” she said.
The couple almost could not make ends meet when they had the fourth child.
She began suggesting that they sell their blood for money.
With her eyes wet with tears, she added, “I hadn’t reached the age of 30 yet. After giving blood, the hospital in Bac Lieu gave us ration cards to buy meat, milk, sugar, and rice to recover our health.
“Doctors allowed me to sell blood once every two months. But I used the name of my sister to do it every month.”
She suffered unconsciousness several times on her way home from the hospital.
She sold blood until she was 40 years old when her health deteriorated.
Now, Lang is enduring a series of diseases and bad symptoms such as anaemia, high blood pressure, problems with joints, her heart and kidneys.
Lam, one of the male 'giants' of the family, has a mental disorder and often wanders around. He only goes back home after several days, sometimes after two or three months, according to the father, Sua.
All remaining three sons of the family, who are still single, work as hired fishermen for fishing boats’ owners, and are paid ten percent of the income a boat collects.
Feeling inferiority for their ‘supersize’ bodies, the ‘giants’ of the family often avoid contacts with strangers.
Chau Thanh Sang, chairman of the People’s Committee of Vinh Hau A Commune, admitted that the family has never attended any meetings with locals for job training and employment launched by local authorities.
“I will pay attention to them to give them more support,” Sang confirmed.