Yesterday I was involved in trying to arrange a visa to Australia for the mother of a 13 year old boy (Giang) who has suffered burns to 90% of his body. Giang has been provided with a chance of a better life through remedial orthopaedic surgery in Australia because of an organisation known as ROMAC (Rotary Overseas Medical Aid to Children) but the boy has been waiting for a long time due to the bureaucratic processes that have to be undertaken. His mother Phuong needed to complete her visa application process so that she can accompany Giang to Australia as his guardian and yesterday I felt hopeful that things would be at a finish and airline tickets would be able to be arranged for early in the New Year.
Imagine my disappointment then to find out that Phuong’s x-ray shows traces of tuberculosis and because of this there may be no possibility of her being granted entry (1 in every 6 persons in Viet Nam contract tuberculosis). Additionally, Giang will be having another x-ray this morning himself as he has been exposed to the disease. These pair travelled by bus yesterday morning, as they have done on numerous occasions, from their remote village in Moc Hoa District of Long An Province which is west of HCMC close to the border with Kampuchea.
I had hoped that this would be nearly the last time that they would have to make the long and tiring journey, but now it appears as if this process must go on for some time yet. My next plane of action is to discover if Giang can go to Australia by himself. This will alleviate the slow process of finding another guardian or waiting for his mother to be treated (at least 12 months).