Congenital amputee chooses life of empowerment

By Pham Nga   May 9, 2020 | 03:12 am PT
Nay Djrueng, the only child in his family to enter college, has flourished in the absence of limbs since birth.

One night in April, Nay Djrueng, 26, could not sleep and decided to finish volunteering related work and study video editing at his Binh Thanh District studio in Ho Chi Minh City. 

The second limbless child of a father affected by Agent Orange, Djrueng was regarded as the incarnation of evil by fellow Jrai ethnic villagers despite surviving, unlike his brother. 

Learning of his plight, a relative came to his rescue, only to return the boy several days after since no local would come near the house fearing bad luck.

"He is our blood. All we can do is love and raise him," said Kbor Djoang, Djrueng's father, who lives in Gia Lai Province, Central Highlands.

The boy has one set of clothes to go to school. Photo courtesy of Nay Djrueng.

The boy has only one set of clothes for school. Photo courtesy of Nay Djrueng.

Dreaming of attending school, Djrueng was afraid of bullying and embarrassing his siblings, so he stayed behind on the farm by himself, his parents too busy to care for him. 

At age eight, he finally entered the village school, confident enough without his father’s help after a mere two days.

In third grade, the boy finally got a pair of sandals and one set of school clothes.

"Moving about on his knees at times, he never rejected the chance to hang out with friends. He was happy and active," Djoang recalled.

At secondary boarding school, Djrueng would often walk the 20 kilometers home by himself, since his parents were too busy taking care of their six other children.

Fortunately, his peers proved supportive when it came to lunch and books, one teacher even taking on the role of foster parent.

"Their love empowered me. Once, when I fell sick, my Physics teacher cooked for me," Djrueng recalled.

Struggling to memorize his lessons, the boy did all he could to keep abreast of his work, using what little stipend he received to acquire more books.

"His appearance didn’t bother him. Djrueng liked singing - he was talented," said Nguyen Thi Anh Tuyet, retired music teacher at Krong Pa Ethnic Boarding School. 

"He took part in all activities," she said, adding Djrueng even cleaned the class room on his knees.

"I told him to use his prostheses, but he said they hurt."

Tuyet and Djrueng once joined a local singing contest and won second prize.

After learning about IT expert Nguyen Cong Hung, born with muscular dystrophy, Djrueng decided to apply for an undergraduate program in computer science at the University of Da Nang.

Nay Djrueng posted this photo and said he has taken up reading books. Photo courtesy of Nay Djrueng.

Nay Djrueng recently took up reading. Photo courtesy of Nay Djrueng.

Meeting his disabled friend for the first time, Nguyen Van Tien from central Ha Tinh Province could not hide his admiration. 

"He applied to become class monitor, a position he held for three years until graduation. He encouraged us to take part in many activities. If he was not feeling well enough to join, he would still come to support," Tien recalled.

After graduating, Djrueng has worked for several firms and manages a charity website to empower those facing difficulties. In 2014, he founded the "Tiep Suc Den Truong" fund to support students in remote areas. As resources are limited, he priorities students from his former primary and high schools.

Now, he joins every school opening ceremony and often utilizes his own funds when donations fall short.

Nay Djrueng gave gifts to studentss at Krong Nang Primary School on September 5, 2018. Photo courtesy of Nay Djrueng.

Djrueng poses with students at Krong Nang Primary School on September 5, 2018. Photo courtesy of Nay Djrueng.

"I have been loved and supported by a lot of people, so I want to empower others," he explained.

Duong Van Cu, Djrueng's teacher at Dinh Tien Hoang High School in Krong Pa District, was not surprised when his former student asked him for help in supporting poor local pupils.

"As a student, he apologized when his classmates criticized him. When the school handed out gifts, he gave his," Cu recalled, adding Djrueng is the pride of the school and local community.

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