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Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

By Duc Hung   October 31, 2021 | 02:00 am PT
With arms paralyzed since birth, Ha Tinh native Pham Van Cam lives by himself, using his deformed legs to perform all tasks including gardening and making bird cages.
Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

Pham Van Cam, 52, lives alone in a 60 m2 house in Ky Anh District's Ky Xuan Commune, Ha Tinh Province, central Vietnam.

His family lives on a land plot spanning thousands of m2 with four houses. The other three houses belong to Cam's brother, mother and sister.

Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

Cam is the third child in a family of five siblings. He was born with congenital defects, arms limp and unusable and legs deformed.

He has had no relief from the congenital problems and has trouble speaking coherently, but has an upbeat personality. He loves nature, plants flowers at home and raises birds as companions.

Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

Cam's mother, 84-year-old Pham Thi Cuong, said she and her husband were poor farmers who did not have enough money to provide Cam with the treatment that could have improved his condition. But, she added, while Cam has been a sickly child since he was young, he always pulled through.

"I spent many sleepless nights crying helplessly as I watched my son grow up with his abnormalities. As a mother, I wanted to do so much for him, but our poverty made that impossible," Cuong said. She also said that despite the trouble he has communicating with others, he's bright and observant. He watches others work and copies them later.

Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

Cam used to live with his father in a house at the foot of a mountain in Ky Xuan Commune when he was young. When his father died from a stroke, he moved to a different house in Le Loi Village.

Cam's father used to make bird cages and sell them. Cam learned the craft and is able to make cages using his legs. He remembers that in the early days, he was injured often by bamboo blades and other tools.

"There were days when I spent an entire afternoon just streaming down a bamboo section. I came close to giving up and trying to do something else. When I was 19, I started getting better and was able to manipulate the tools using my toes," Cam said.

Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

Cam purchases the bamboo from a local market. People who sympathize with his situation help him carry materials to his house and lend him tools for work.

Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

It takes around 15 days for Cam to finish a bird cage, which is sold for VND70,000-200,000 ($3.05-8.72). Some customers pay extra as a form of support.

Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

Over the years, Cam has learnt to use his legs to operate electrical appliances in his home.

Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

He does all the daily tasks with his legs, from cleaning up the house to cooking his meals.

Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

"I was not fortunate enough to be a normal person, but I cannot be useless. I will try to better myself every single day," he said.

Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

Cam uses different body positions for different tasks. He sits on a bucket and uses his legs to hang up clothes to dry.

Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

In his “free” time, Cam likes to cultivate flowers. During Tet, the Lunar New Year festival, he gives flowering plants as gifts to friends and relatives.

Handicapped man uses legs for a hands-on approach to life

Before taking his customary nap at noon, Cam turns on the TV. The TV, a fridge and fan are his most valuable possessions. He has bought them after saving his own money and getting some from his relatives.

Cuong said her son gets VND500,000 a month as welfare support for disabled people. With some income from selling bird cages, he has barely enough to get by, but remains independent.

"His condition makes it almost impossible to have a family. My other children are also not very well off, financially, but they have promised to support Cam when he is in difficulties after I die."

Nguyen Thanh Chung, chairman of the Ky Xuan Commune People's Committee, said the way Cam has risen above adversity is an inspiration and an example for everyone to learn from.

 
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