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  • Writer's pictureTran Mai Anh

A Fairytale of Hearts

Thien Nhan has just turned 15 years old, but I always feel like it’s only been a few years since his journey first started.

I’ve recently been caught up in an old piece of advice I read ten years ago—”Never start a journey without an end.”

Over the years, I have developed a better understanding of this phrase “no endings”. When people don’t close the doors of life themselves, their journey will just carry on.

Today, Thien Nhan has grown up to be a disciplined and compassionate man far different from the naive boy who used to eat raw meat and couldn’t properly distinguish between lots of things, from taste to basic concepts of life. I am a very lucky mother to be proud and put complete trust in my children, despite them being a bit naughty and stubborn in their youth. Moreover, I believe that if a boy’s life journey—along with his optimistic personality, great sense of humour, excellent wisdom and strong integrity—can eventually help him overcome every obstacle to achieve his own goals, then it is a beautiful journey no matter whether there’s good fortune or violent storms at the end of the day.

While Thien Nhan was on his journey, I told stories about him online to share our love with everyone moved by his experience. Not only the surgeries and the big treatments, but also the little moments, the love shared with his brothers while joking, fighting, crying. All those stories were eventually collected as a book, Now that book is released in English to spread his stories further, wider. I have seen how important it is to share stories through books, how much they can touch readers in faraway places. I now work to help all Vietnamese people with great stories to tell, especially great women leaders in Vietnam, share their experiences in English books through my editing role at Metro Writers.


Our family life is so steady that we’re always excited and busy loving life and loving other people; So much loving that our little world has become more lively, peaceful, and sweet. Since Thien Nhan’s case, we’ve been adopting more and more unlucky boys and girls with genital defects, but they in return are extraordinary children who may have emotional wounds but also sincere personalities, who appreciate the value of life and love.

In September 2021, the “Thien Nhan & Friends” program marked its 10-year journey of providing examinations and consultations for more than 1500 families as well as 502 surgeries aimed at limiting disability, achieving the best possible results for each case, and granting these kids a stable life just like normal people. So far, applications have been piling up and pending for more than 1000 pediatric patients. The program must go on, as paediatric urologists from many large hospitals in Vietnam, Italy, the U.S., Russia, etc. gather together to deal with the constantly increasing number of children with genital defects. We call this surgery run A Journey of Love, and the people who participate in this journey including patients, doctors, donors, etc. are all members of the Thien Nhan Family.


There will always be journeys of love anywhere as we open up our hearts. The fact is that after taking Thien Nhan on infinite trips around the world for surgery and seeking treatments, I think about a peaceful life where we can choose to grow independently as a family and ignore the outside world. That being said, there are still thousands of families with thousands of other innocent children similar to Thien Nhan. No matter what, I couldn’t dare and wouldn’t dare look down on them.

I am also the founder of The Sesame Seed volunteer group with some of my close friends to help bring justice to nearly 400 garbage collectors whose unpaid salaries have been delayed for days and months. In particular, we have joined forces with many newspapers, KOLs, authorities, etc. in urging the company owner to make fair payment to the garbage collectors on their hardship. On behalf of thousands of supporters, we provided each worker VND5.9 million to temporarily overcome their difficult times, and specifically aided a worker in need by securing a job with ensured contract terms, high-quality insurance, stable income, and so on.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, The Sesame Seed group couldn’t bear to see so many people in our southern provinces—especially Ho Chi Minh City—being put at risk of death from shortness of breath due to the severe infection; Meanwhile, many hospitals have already run out of ventilators, oxygen concentrators, etc.

In 2021, among the raging Covid-19 pandemic, A Journey of Love engages in the demand for ventilators to hospitals all over Vietnam and in particular the southern provinces to provide patients with sufficient oxygen in time. Each additional ventilator provided can save a patient, and we believe that with only just a little breath can there be hope for life.

We are all part of a big family, and as long as anyone’s in need, we must not ignore it. Watching a person suffering from shortness of breath makes us feel suffocated and running out of breath, too.

If we can be the saviour for someone else, especially in saving their lives, how can we not take action? If everyone in this world is somehow connected, why not just be good to everyone?


Anyone—even one single child or the most ordinary person—can alter the fates of others and make their lives better through their own kindness. Miracles start with the good intentions we hold—together, we shall create fairy tales made of hearts!

Thien Nhan's story is published in English as A Journey of Love.

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