After Le Phuong Uyen fell several stories and landed on a 16-seat bus parked below, she knew her life would never be the same.
|Le Phuong Uyen, 23, feels at home behind the camera. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre|
At 21 years old, she was paralyzed from the waist down and had to rebuild her life from scratch. Now, two years later, despite not being able to walk, she refuses to let any obstacle get in the way of her one true love: photography.
A new will to live
Although Uyen has undergone several operations meant to stabilize her back, doctors say its likely she’ll be paralyzed for the rest of her life.
In the days and weeks following her accident, Uyen and her family couldn’t believe she’d never be able to walk again.
Uyen had been an avid photographer since she was a child. She learned to take pictures on smartphones and tablets and, by the time she was in 12th-grade, had saved up enough money to buy a digital camera.
After she lost the use of her legs, Uyen felt as if that passion was being ripped from her hands.
“I once asked my family to let me die, but my brother’s inspired me to live. He told that it couldn’t get any worse, so I might as well do my best to become a respectable person,” Uyen shared.
Now, although daily life is a struggle, Uyen has a new will to live.
“My schedule is pretty much the same each day. I wake up and go to the hospital for physical therapy,” she told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“I try my best to overcome the monotony because I believe I cannot die. I almost died once before. No one can make me almost die again.”
|Tran Minh Phuong carries Le Phuong Uyen to the studio, where Uyen takes photos at the weekends. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre|
Pursuing a passion
Despite the tragic accident, Uyen has managed to hold onto her passion for photography.
“You can still sit in the wheelchair, so you can take photos, too,” a friend had reminded her.
That same friend later sent Uyen photos of wheelchair-bound photographers, inspiring Uyen to pick up her camera and return to photography.
“I get so much support from others. After undergoing physical therapy from Monday to Friday, I return to Saigon to take photos,” Uyen said.
“Because of my health condition, other members of my team help me move around. They carry me to the car and upstairs. They also help me carry my equipment. The only thing they don’t help me with is getting dressed.”
Uyen hopes her story will inspire others facing the same circumstances to hold their heads high and pursue their dreams.
“I want to be happy do what I like without wasting time,” Uyen said.
“I feel happy when others are willing to listen to me, respect me, and help me,” she said.
According to Pham Dac Mai Chi, director of EYEIYAGI Company – the organization which employs Uyen, the young woman is an inspiration for her colleagues.
“Uyen is a woman who is full of positive energy. She has been able to overcome her tragedy. Her strength inspires her coworkers,” said Chi.
Apart from Chi’s support, Uyen also receives considerable help from her team members. Although they do not have to go to work on Saturdays and Sundays, they often visit the company to help Uyen get around.
|Le Phuong Uyen works with two coworkers in front of a laptop. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre|
|Le Phuong Uyen takes photos for a customer. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre|
|Mai Anh, a coworker, helps Uyen to put the foot in the right position that will make Uyen more comfortable. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre|
|Pham Dac Mai Chi (right) and Tran Minh Chanh (left) are Le Phuong Uyen (middle) look at the laptop screen while they are working together. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre|
|Le Phuong Uyen navigates her wheelchair throughout the office where she works at the weekends after spending from Monday to Friday in the city of Vung Tau where she receives physical therapy. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre|
|Le Phuong Uyen smiles while holding an open book in her hands. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre|