BasicNeeds reaches out to 100,000th personVo Binh is the 100,000th person BasicNeeds has reached!
He is a 43 year-old man who lives in Thua Thien Hue province of Vietnam and, in this photo he is proudly standing beside his new "cyclo" granted to him in order that he can earn a living for his family.
Vo Binh, like all the people we come across in our work, has faced a lot of difficulties in his life, although he is blessed with a loving and supportive family. They have helped him to deal with his schizophrenia and to face the future more hopefully again.
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Binh was one of nine children and one of only two who learned to read and write. He understood the value of education so, when he had children of his own, he worked hard to earn enough to send all three of them to school. It was hard work pedaling a cyclo for long hours, transporting passengers or goods to their destination. His wife, Hong, also helped to make ends meet by selling porridge in the mornings and sweet potato mixed with vermicelli in the afternoon.
The family went into crisis, however, when Binh became ill with schizophrenia in 2000. It was a sudden change and Hong reports that he broke everything he picked up. He left home. He sat alone. He was afraid of water. He cried, smiled and screamed for no reason at all and ate everything he found on the ground.
Hong had no idea what the problem was but devoted her time to looking after him. The family's economy went into decline. Binh was no longer an earning member, and Hong's work became erratic at best. Their income dwindled so badly that the three children had to stop schooling.
Dismayed and worried, the family put in a lot of effort into his recovery, but they failed. Finally, they sent him to a psychiatric centre (now the upgraded Thua Thien Hue Psychiatric Hospital run by the government).
He ended up living in this institution, chained, so that he would not escape and harm himself.
Hong does not remember the number of times she visited him there, but in the end, she said, it became too much. "All I did was pray for him ever since he got the disease".
One dramatic day, Binh broke his chains and ran home.
His family was afraid of him; his neighbours were afraid of him. His family had to hide him from the community. To their amazement, however, he had changed. The treatment he received must have helped to stabilize his condition and, luckily, his experience of being chained there has not prevented him continuing to visit the hospital regularly for outpatient treatment.
Once again, Binh was able to take care of himself and most of his earlier symptoms had disappeared. When asked what he would now most like in the way of support, Binh replied, "I want a new cyclo to earn money and support my wife."
Today, Binh earns about 50,000-60,000 Vietnamese Dong (VND) (US$ 2.5-3) a day, even 100,000 VND (US$ 5) on a particularly busy day. "Every day I save VND 2000-5000. I put it into a plastic piggy bank. At the end of the year, I will use one half of it for my own family. The rest I will send to people like me with psychiatric problems. My life is more stable than before."
Hong says, "My biggest dream is my husband's recovery"