Sunflower Festival Aids Children with Cancer

It took less than an hour to create a field of bright sunflowers. The yellow blooms were a cheerful sight, but many visitors had tears in their eyes as they read messages of hope, cheer and gut-wrenching suffering of parents and children in their fight against the dreaded disease of cancer.

Many people gather in Youth Culture House in HCMC to create a field of bright sunflower (Photo: Tuoi Tre Newspaper)

The Sunflower Festival held on Sunday at the Youth Culture House in HCMC marked the first death anniversary of Le Thanh Thuy whose struggle against bone cancer, recorded through a blog, stirred thousands of hearts nationwide, and sparked the Thuy’s Dream campaign by the Truoi Tre Newspaper to help children living with cancer.

Thuy, who was presented with the HCM City Young Citizen Award by city authorities, died last year at the age of 19.

Mingling with the crowd, some visitors settled down over notes in diaries displayed along the way at the festival. These words talked about the struggling against cancer, the helplessness of parents watching their worn-out children, and the dreams and hopes of the children themselves.

A group of students from Nguyen Thi Minh Khai High School read and took photos of each page in the diaries to “feel inside the strength and understand more the difficulties in struggling with the fatal disease,” said one of them.

Hong Anh in District 3 took her daughters to the Youth Culture House and decided to buy a picture produced by a kid patient in the Tumor Hospital. Eleven pictures VND300,000 each (US$18) were sold by visitors or benefactors who ordered through telephone. The proceeds will be contributed to the fund to support poor child patients.

“I could not help crying before a picture introduced as the first and the last of a child who had drawn it with the help of the mother.” said Mai of Binh Thanh District.

Some people from the southern provinces of Vinh Long and Can Tho arrived in the city early to join the festival, where hundreds of people worked hard to make the field of flowers.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Nhi (M), a 3-year-old cancer victim, sings the song Ca Nha Thuong Nhau on the stage (Photo: Tuoi Tre Newspaper)

Many bought the flowers that were being sold to raise funds for poor children suffering from cancer. Huu Vy ordered 100 flowers for his father, who is undergoing the terminal phase of the disease.

The flowers, which were made by participants in the festival, carried thousands of wishes exhorting the children to “not give in to fate”; or “live like the sunflower which always turns to face the sun”; or “each flower is strength we pass to you. Let us share your pain and bring you happiness”.

These messages mingled with the aspirations of children. “I wish to have the power to cure my disease and (that of my) friends in the room” wrote 11-year-old Vo Thi Ha.

“I wish to get out of the disease and come back to school and become a doctor later,” said little Tan.

Many parents brought their children to the festival to teach them the values of sharing and loving.
Tuan of Binh Thanh District took his sixth-grade daughter so she could understand the pain of unlucky persons. He has volunteered to provide training in computers for disadvantaged children in Go Vap District.

Around 5,000 visitors attended the festival, raising about VND100 million (US$6,000) for the fund to support children with cancer.

Source: TT - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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