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I was just nine months old, “as beautiful as a princess” my mom said, when I had an allergic reaction to a vaccination which left me lame.

It was nobody’s fault they said, it was just one of those things. I was just unfortunate. Mom wanted my brothers to take care of me, so she constantly reminded them that I was the one with bad karma in the family, so they could be successful.

For that reason they always fed me well, but I never learned anything. When I turned 25 my mom was 65 and she began to worry that she would pass away and my brothers would no longer be able to take care of me when I grew old. She said I should have a baby of my own to take care of me in my old age.

We asked a man for help. Today my daughter is 9 months old, and I am afraid to have her vaccinated.

Although her father does not live very far away, he never comes to see her. We have kept our promise too and never contact him. The NGO staff that bring gifts to all the single mothers in town, keep asking how he can ignore his child and behave as if she doesn’t exist? How could he have agreed to father a child knowing as he did that she would have a hard life? And so on and so forth. The problem is that such young women, who have often studied abroad and who work all the time with foreigners, know nothing about life in Vietnam. They cannot understand that in my eyes, he did me a favor, my baby is a blessing. Without him I would not even have a child.

My father killed him with the knife he used to beat me every day, then put his body on his motorcycle and took it directly to the police station, confessing his crime.

My Dad he was sorry he could not do anything more for me, and told me he loved me, and hoped that I could have a better life with my two sons, and that they would not inherit their father’s violent streak.

Today my dad is in jail, but unfortunately things did not turn out the way he hoped. My two sons and I are the victims of malicious gossip and the stigma attached to my husband’s death. While it is true that I no longer have to suffer beatings, people look at us in fear or with scorn.

There is no longer any smell of alcohol in the house, but I cannot banish the image of his bloodied body on my father’s motorcycle.

My story has recently appeared on the front page of several magazines, as a result of which I was contacted by an NGO working to empower women here in Vietnam. They have provided us with psychological help, and have awarded my two children scholarships to learn English, paid their school fees and given them money for school lunches so that they can continue their education at a state school.

They have also provided me with a sewing machine so that I can work from home and take care of my children while making products for them.

Unfortunately I don’t think I can stay in the house, even during the day, I imagine I can still smell the alcohol; and see the knife, fearing revenge. I know it sounds strange but that is how I feel. “Violence can’t beat violence, your father should not have done what he did, even to protect you,” they say. But tell me, if my dad had not done that, then who would have protected us?

“One day an NGO came to our village. They could see that we were really poor and said they were willing to help us. However before they could help us, we needed to obtain a certificate issued by the village authorities to poor families, otherwise they could do nothing for us. I had already been to the village office several times to ask for that certificate, but each time they refused to give it to me, saying that since both my husband and I were alive and seeing as how we only had two children, we were not considered to be poor by their standards.

So that is why I made up my mind to commit suicide”.

Each time someone dies in Vietnam there is a collection and family, friends and neighbors give what they can to help the family of the dead person, and share their loss. In this case the mother killed herself so that the family would get some money, and so that her children would qualify for the certificate mentioned above, and there was enough money to enable her eldest son to finish his last year at university. “The head of the NGO who is a truly remarkable lady, promised to help my son learn English and then find him a job.” Unfortunately since she died she did not have a chance to follow up with the NGO, but she died knowing that her children would be taken care of.

She left a letter for her children whom she loved very much. She felt that her son would look after his younger sister, who still had one more year of high school. Since she is a girl, her mother thought that perhaps she did not need to go to university!

In her letter she said that God welcomed the poor in Heaven, and hoped that she would be able to watch over her children from above. She did not appear to have much faith in her husband however.

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