The Hopeful Journey of the Boy with the Black-Streaked Face: An Inspirational Transformation

“I am afraid that when my child gets older, he will be aware of the difference in his face, making him feel self-deprecating and ashamed,” said the mother of the boy with a “monkey” face.

On the day of receiving the good news, Hoang Thi Nhat and her husband (born in 1989) and Mr. Lo Van Phang (born in 1987) lived in Chao Ha 1 village, Nghia Loi commune (Nghia Lo, Yen Bai) with extreme happiness.

In 2011, after a period of pregnancy, the couple joyfully welcomed their first son, named Lo Bao Troi with the wish that the child would be healthy and peaceful.

However, happiness was short-lived when they were informed by the doctor that their son was born with a congenital melanoma, causing his face to become deformed and leaving the family extremely saddened.

“Mom, why is my face black, not white like you guys?”

Describing her son, Ms. Nhat, her voice choked with tears, shared that during her pregnancy, she was extremely cautious with her diet and frequently attended prenatal care. However, nothing unusual was detected.

After the baby was born with a “strange” face, curious people came to see him. “There are people who have a bad mouth and say that my child is a monkey face, a forest man, because my family is like this, that…, making me feel even more sorry for him,” Ms. Nhat said.

Despite facing hurtful words, Nhat and her husband supported each other to stay positive, aiming to “raise their children well” and prevent their children from feeling guilty.

Now at 6 years old, sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and ask: “Mom, why is my face black and not white like your friends?” Nhat had to pretend to ignore it, redirecting her son’s attention elsewhere.

“At times like these, I love my children even more. Because my family is poor, I can’t afford to take my child for surgery,” said Nhat with affection.

Afraid that her child will be self-deprecating when he realizes the difference

According to Ms. Nhat, when Troi was 18 months old, a charity took him to a major hospital in Hanoi for surgery. But this organization disbanded after the surgery, while the journey to give baby Troi a normal face is a long one.

Because the tumor spreads across the face, certain sensitive areas like the eyes, nose, and lips cannot be operated on simultaneously. However, due to the family’s poor financial situation relying on farming and a small grocery store, there is no money for further surgery.

Unable to cure her child’s illness, Nhat suffered greatly. Her only wish at this time was to have a miracle so that her son could have a normal life like other children.

Especially, she could not avoid her son’s questions forever. She was afraid that at some point, her son would realize the difference in his face, leading to self-deprecation and shame.

Discussing Ms. Nhat’s family, Mr. Lo Van Cu, Vice Chairman of Nghia Loi Commune (Nghia Lo, Yen Bai) said: “Mr. Phang’s family and Ms. Nhat belong to the poor household in the commune, living with two wives. Their family faces many difficulties. Troi has been born with melanoma since childhood. Although his family took him for surgery once, it hasn’t been cured. I also hope that benefactors can help so that Troi can receive the treatment he needs.”

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