Lai Van Hung, 25 years old, is the eldest son in a family with 2 brothers. Hung was born with a congenital eye disease attributed to high doses of antibiotics his mother was prescribed during pregnancy. His father passed away when he was 14 due to gallbladder cancer, so his mother worked as a garment worker to support them.
More fortunate than many visually impaired children in rural areas, Hung went to school with sighted children until the end of 7th grade. By the beginning of 8th grade, the teacher told Hung and his family about his eye condition. It would get worse and worse if he continued to go to school, so the school decided that he should leave. Hung's hometown was very poor, and the school did not have the resources to support children with disabilities. In the summer of 2009, he went to a “Tam Quat” - a traditional Vietnamese massage, so called “tam quat”,course organized by the Training Center for the Ninh Binh province’s Blind Association (NBBA). After graduating, Hung went to work in “tam quat” establishments in Nho Quan and Tam Diep in Ninh Binh province, then went to work in Nam Dinh city.
His favorite hobby is traveling alone, as he likes the feeling of being relaxed and comfortable, free from entanglements. He went to the highlands in Vietnam such as Dien Bien, Cao Bang, and Bac Kan. While traveling to Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan province and realizing there were no “tam quat” facilities in the area, Hung decided to invest in the opening of a tam quat studio with initial capital of 70 million dong (3043 USD). That was in 2016, when he was 21 years old. During the first two months, he was the studio’s only massage therapist. After those initial months, Hung hired the first blind employee, but it took four months to offset the salary loss for the staff. When the business was finally operating smoothly, Hung's tam quat massage studio employed five blind people (including himself). He operated the facility for two years, after which time its profitability enabled him to sell the business in order to return to his hometown.
This year of 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and because Hung wanted to learn new techniques, he signed up for the Swedish massage course co-organized by NBBA and BlindLink, which is the second course he had attended since leaving school. He intends to open his own massage therapy business in 1-2 years and will include Swedish massage among its services.
Hung's biggest dream is to have enough money to travel; if possible, he wishes to go to Japan, because he loves Japanese culture and has heard that the Japanese landscape is very beautiful.
When asked about his life and dreams, Hung told us “When I was a kid, I was teased a lot, but I accepted it. No amount of teasing would make me quit school. Luckily, I have a tight knit group of friends. We work in different places, but whenever we have the opportunity to go back to our hometown we meet up. Everyone is born with a unique fate, and if we can happily accept our circumstances and thrive despite our challenges, then everything will get better.”