Y Non is now a healthy and happy young girl in Kon Su Village in Dak Long Commune, Kon Plong District, Kon Tum Province, Vietnam. She is totally different from the little girl waiting for death in a forest nine years ago.
The young girl currently lives in a wooden house with her parents in Kon Su Village, which is home to Mo Nam ethnic people.
She waited for your correspondents in front of the house on the day they returned to visit her.
‘Forest ghost’ waits for death
The reporters could not recognize Y Non as she was not the same little girl left in a shelter in the forest, but her broken eye and scars on her neck remain as reminders of her troubled past.
The 18-year-old girl goes into the forest with her parents every day to earn a living.
A Hanh, Y Non’s father, is quite young. He could not hide his sadness upon recalling the past when he explained to local officials why he left his daughter at the edge of the forest nine years ago.
“I did not know how to treat her illness and the only way was to leave her in the forest,” Hanh claimed.
Y Nuong, Y Non’s mother, shared the same feeling as her husband. Y Non would be found dead if no one had rescued her in the forest.
In March 2014, a group of officials saw a little girl dying in a shelter around 500 meters from Kon Su Village while they were building a new road.
Her face and body were totally injured by scabies and even one of her eyes was damaged. Fortunately, she was alive.
She looked at them with the remaining eye as if asking for help.
They immediately called an ambulance to take her to a hospital in Kon Tum City, the provincial capital.
Y Non is evidence of the unfortunate practice when parents cannot care for their children.
Doctors diagnosed Y Non with a rare skin disease and transferred her to Quy Hoa Central Hospital of Dermatology in Binh Dinh Province, about 100km from Kon Tum.
The disease made her body break out with sores and one of her eyes saw nothing.
|Y Non is now a healthy and happy young girl. Photo: B.D. / Tuoi Tre
As she was not treated in the right way, the disease got worse.
Her chance of survival at that time was less than 20 percent but doctors tried their best to save her.
After months of treatment, Y Non recovered and was taken back to her home.
Her parents were the first ones to know that their daughter was alive. Her health was better but there were many scars on her body.
However, her parents did not believe that she was completely cured. Therefore, Vo Thi Le, Party secretary of Dak Long Commune, fostered Y Non.
According to teachers in Kon Plong District Department of Education and Training, Y Non contracted the disease when she was in fifth grade.
It took her a year to recover.
Friends in her school at first were afraid of her. Then, the teachers explained to them and Y Non was welcomed.
Love of Vo Thi Le has healed Y Non emotionally and physically.
When Y Non finished fifth grade, she returned to her birth parents with a healthy body and a smile on her face.
‘She is our daughter’
Sitting next to her father and remembering the past, Y Non said, “I felt scared, hurt and my body was itchy. I thought I died.”
Y Non’s father also felt so bad when he had to bring his daughter to the shelter, but there was nothing else he could do.
“She was the first in our village to have the disease. Although I sought medicines and cures to try to reverse her condition, the illness would not leave her,” A Hanh said.
“The villagers and I were afraid of her. I thought it was hopeless and brought her to the shelter. I brought her meals every day since then,” Y Non’s father recalled.
Even though local officials advised Y Hanh to take her to the hospital, he still believed she was going to die.
“Of course, I felt so bad as she is my daughter. I was happy when she recovered,” he shared.
Y Hanh and his wife have three kids and Y Non is the middle child. After finishing her eighth grade, Y Non dropped out of school to help her parents make a living.
She currently takes medicines regularly as sometimes she gets itchy around her body and neck.
“I can drive to Kon Tum Hospital to get my medicines by myself,” she said.