Phong, who is paralyzed and unable to walk, does not possess any assets.

Although her husband may be disabled, it has not hindered their strong and fulfilling marriage of twenty years, with many more to come.

Duong Thi Thu Lieu, also known as Thu, never envisioned that she and Phong, a resident of Ho Chi Minh City and five years her junior, would one day exchange vows.

Phong, despite his financial constraints and permanent paralysis from the waist down, had nearly lost hope in finding genuine love. However, everything changed when he encountered Thu, a 55-year-old individual.

After twenty years of marriage, the couple expresses that their love has only grown stronger. They anticipate a lifetime of togetherness.

According to Thu, she and Phong had known each other for twelve years before they realized they were in love.

Phong had been acquainted with Thu’s younger sibling and would frequently visit their home in Ngoc Dinh Commune, Dinh Quan District, located in the southern province of Dong Nai.

“I just regarded him as my younger brother. The idea of pursuing a romantic relationship with him never once occurred to me,” Thu stated, a smile gracing her face.

As time went on, Phong’s visits became more extended and regular, sometimes lasting for over a week.

During their interactions, Thu and Phong developed a deeper understanding of each other. Eventually, Thu inquired about Phong’s decision not to pursue starting a family.

Phong expressed his belief in the unlikely event of a woman willingly marrying a handicapped man.

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After several months, Thu asked the question again, and Phong took this chance to express his deep affection for her.

“Actually, I have been harboring feelings of affection towards you for quite some time,” Phong expressed to her.

“Observing your unwavering dedication to caring for your father, who is afflicted with complete paralysis, without the slightest hint of discontent, I am convinced that you are the embodiment of my deepest desires.”

Thu was taken aback by his unexpected declaration of love, leaving her speechless.

“It is not my intention to belittle you based on your socio-economic status or physical limitations,” Thu replied eventually.

“It is simply a matter of your age being five years less than mine.”

“If you were older than me, I would readily accept your offer.”

When Phong made the determination, he resolved to use all available means to win her affection.

“I felt an overwhelming sense of joy when she finally gave her affirmation,” Phong reminisced.

“It took every ounce of bravery I had to propose.

Unfortunately, her beauty and charm were beyond the grasp of someone like myself who is disabled.

Despite facing opposition from family and enduring criticism from both relatives and neighbors, the couple officially married in the year 2000.

Thu expressed her deep love for him, leading her to make the firm decision to marry him, even in the face of potential challenges. She emphasized that she has never experienced any regrets about accepting his proposal, even though it took her some time to become accustomed to the opinions of others.

“Although I loved him deeply, it took me another two years to fully embrace the commitment of being his wife,” the woman shared with heartfelt emotion.

In 2001, the couple joyfully welcomed a perfectly healthy and stunning baby daughter.

A dedicated wife and mother

Phong was diagnosed with polio at the tender age of three, resulting in a permanent paralysis of his legs ever since.

At the age of 10, he found himself in a difficult situation where he had to depend on the kindness of neighbors due to his father leaving and his mother getting remarried. Despite these challenges, he persevered and learned how to look after himself.

Nguyen Ky Phong and his wife, Duong Thi Thu Lieu, or Thu, make a living by fixing electronic household appliances and weaving baskets at their home in Dong Nai Province, Vietnam. Photo: Dieu Qui / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Ky Phong and his wife, Duong Thi Thu Lieu, or Thu, make a living by fixing electronic household appliances and weaving baskets at their home in Dong Nai Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: Dieu Qui / Tuoi Tre

After concluding his adolescence, he engaged in various employment opportunities in Ho Chi Minh City prior to settling down in Dong Nai. Now residing with his spouse, he sustains his livelihood by specializing in the repair of electronic appliances.

When their daughter turned two, the couple decided to reside with Thu’s mother in their present residence. Phong successfully operates a small electronics repair shop from this location, often extending complimentary services to those in need or elderly individuals.

The family’s primary source of income is derived from Thu, who works in janitorial and delivery services to support their financial needs.

The unwavering devotion she has for her husband and daughter is what fuels her resilience in the face of the family’s challenges.

In 2015, the family faced a tragic setback when Phong experienced a debilitating stroke. As a result, his wife has been faced with the difficult challenge of supporting the family while also caring for her husband.

During that period, Thu had to rely on a humble income by delivering 140 kilogram sacks of cashew nuts to small businesses in the local area.

After a three-year journey, Phong successfully recovered from his stroke, coinciding with Thu’s hospitalization for a two-month period due to Spondylosis, a degenerative condition affecting the spinal column caused by repetitive strain and aging.

Due to his frustration regarding his inability to provide assistance, Phong exhibited signs of distress by refusing to eat or attend to his personal appearance, such as combing his hair.

“The period of stay at the hospital for two months was the only occasion where I permitted myself to relax and recuperate,” revealed Thu.

Ever since I entered matrimony with him, I have consistently exerted myself to ensure the well-being of my beloved family.

Over time, Thu’s health began to decline.

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Even with the assistance of her husband, she is only able to weave a total of 40 baskets each day, earning a modest amount of VND80,000 ($3.5) in profits.

Phong expressed admiration for his wife, highlighting her resourcefulness and deep love for their family. Throughout the challenging times they faced, she has shouldered the responsibility of providing and sustaining them, a role she wholeheartedly embraced. After two decades together, Phong gazed affectionately at his devoted partner.

Despite his disability and inability to earn money, Phong’s wife has never regretted her decision and has wholeheartedly supported their life together. Together, they have faced poverty and overcome obstacles, determined to make the best of their situation.

In 2019, the couple’s daughter, Nguyen Ky Duyen, was awarded a scholarship through ‘Tiep Suc Den Truong’ (Giving Strength to Students), an annual program organized by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper. This program aims to provide financial support to college students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds across the country.

Duyen is currently in her second year as an English major at a private university located in Ho Chi Minh City.

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