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Vietnamese ‘worm man’ leads optimistic life despite disability

Saturday, May 11, 2019, 20:53 GMT+7
Vietnamese ‘worm man’ leads optimistic life despite disability
Hoang Than cooks a meal while laying on his side. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

A disabled man in Vietnam’s northeast region has spent the past 50 years crawling on his side just to complete basic daily routines

Hoang Than, in his 50s, is often called the “worm man” by others in his small village in Ha Giang Province. 

As a second grader, Than was struck with a sever fever which left him unable to fully control his arms and legs.

As he grew older, time wasn’t kind to Than.  His parents passed away and his older siblings got married and moved out of the family home. 

Alone and struggling, Than moved into a small hut near a local lake and gave independent living a shot – he cooked, cleaned, and took care of typical household chores on his own, without the aid of working arms and legs.

Hoang Than holds a bowl of rice while laying on his side. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre
Hoang Than holds a bowl of rice while laying on his side. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

There were times Than was desperate.

He’d consider suicide and would allow himself to wind up in dangerous, unfortunate circumstances. 

But whether he attempted to take his own life, or narrowly escape an unintended close call, it seemed he was destined to continue to living on this Earth. 

And live he does.  

“My fate is to continue in this life, so I have to enjoy it and make the most of it,” he said.

Thanks to kind-hearted local administrators and villagers, the “worm man” was gifted a proper house equipped with basic amenities, a monthly allowance of VND600,000 (US$26), and an electric wheelchair which he uses to move around the village and visit a local flee market.

“This is the first time I’ve been able to enjoy the bustling atmosphere of this flee market in 50 years,” Than shared excitedly after a recent visit to the bazaar. “It’s truly a remarkable experience.”

Hoang Than sits on his very first wheelchair after 50 years moving of crawling. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre
Hoang Than sits on his very first wheelchair after 50 years moving of crawling. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

In just the short amount of time he’s reintegrated himself into society, he’s gained a reputation throughout the region for his friendliness and sense of humor. 

Even the local children are drawn to his positive attitude and many visit him each day after school to drop off basic necessities or sit around and chat.

Than’s optimism has gone viral through the village and others now turn to him for inspiration on how to make the most of difficult situations.  

“His positive attitude towards life encourages us to keep moving forward with ours,” explained one local villager.

“Worm man” Hoang Than happily smiles for a photo. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre
“Worm man” Hoang Than happily smiles for a photo. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

But even after so overcoming so many obstacles, Than still has one more goal in life: finding his other half.

After all, having disabled arms and legs hasn’t kept him from having a heart full of love.

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