Tam was born on July 8, 2014, into a “gyre” destined for isolation, shame, and abandonment because of his facial disfigurement and blindness. His mother abandoned him at the hospital days after he was born because she could not stand to look at him and refused to even hold him. In Vietnam, children like Tam are kept hidden because they are seen as a curse, which brings shame and dishonor to the family.
In Tam’s case, it was a “pod of love” and not a “pod of whales” that interrupted his gyre. A nun named Sister Maria was the first person to lift Tam out of that vortex and showed him love and compassion. When Tam was four months, Hillary Brown and her team from Helping Orphans Worldwide (HOW) broaden that pod by becoming his advocate in seeking medical assistance for him. Soon, the entire world stepped in. Doctors from two different continents joined efforts to reconstruct Tam’s severe cleft palate and gave him a beautiful face. (Tam survived three major surgeries in 2016 alone. One of which was to place a gastric feeding tube into his tummy so he could eat.) Friends from small towns knitted blankets to keep him warm, strangers from big cities sent clothes, diapers, and food to keep him nurtured.
Hillary and Sister Maria came to the conclusion that due to Tam’s specialized blended diet and his need for more medical attention, it was best for him to stay with Hillary at her private residence in Saigon. Hillary has put her personal life on hold so that she may foster Tam in giving him the extra attention, which he needs. She has also been given guardianship over Tam so that she may make medical decisions on his behalf. Life outside of the orphanage means that Tam gets to attend a specialized school for blind children; he also takes weekly gymnastics and swimming lessons. During his free time, he is learning the alphabets and how to count in English. At two and a half years old, Tam is already bilingual and understands both Vietnamese and English.
In 2017, Hillary and HOW’s team took Tam to Singapore to seek further medical help for him. There’s, a team of doctors, nurse, and specialists ran tests to make sure Tam can properly swallow, followed by many sessions of speech and oral eating therapy.
For now, Tam is our child, nephew, and grandson until we can find a forever family to adopt him. Tam will forever be an inspiration to show this world how numerous small acts of kindness can connect to break a cycle of despair.
A&A cooperates to HOW’s by donating some funds to Tam through Ms. Hillary Brown, the Founder of Helping Orphans Worldwide. We would like to thank HOW’s and Ms. Hillary Brown for giving us an opportunity to reach out for this kid named “TAM”.
Dear Dr. Si,
We do not know how to thank you enough for your generosity, Dr. Si for your huge heart and all of your for what you have all done for Tam in the past. You have all been amazing friends for many years and have helped in so many ways!