If you’re familiar with my blog, you probably notice that I don’t take a lot of portraits. I always find it difficult to have an emotional connection with someone I don’t know well and to tell their story through my lens. It’s particularly hard to work with adults as we are often too self-conscious about ourselves and our surroundings, hence tend to pose too much. But I like taking photos of kids, they are never afraid to show their sensitive sides, their emotions, and free spirits. Even when they are sick…

Just as 2015 was drawing to an end, my colleagues and I had an opportunity to visit a Pediatric Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, and make the wishes come true for some children with cancers. Looking back at all the photos I took that day, I’m struck by how innocent but haunting these kids’ eyes looked. Their eyes seemed to display all the pain, fear, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, confusion, and numbness that only they could probably feel. But I also saw how beautiful a parent-child relationship could be, even under these extremely unlucky and terrible circumstances. I was told some of our gifts came too late, some children who had written down their wishes just a few days before already passed away. But I also witnessed how a small act of kindness could light up a child’s face and give him the strength to sit up on his sick bed and play with his mom. It was heart-breaking to hear a kid with a late-stage cancer saying her wish was to be able to  visit her grandparents, or another one wishing she could make a trip to the seaside as she had never seen the sea before, or another one wishing he could just go home to play with his little sister… Then we all knew we did the right thing to sponsor at least one father to fly to HCMC to visit his child, hopefully not for the last time.

The experience was a somber reminder of how fragile our lives are, and how much more we should treasure each moment we have here on earth with our loved ones. I should have given someone a big hug instead of a firm hand shake today…

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We threw a Christmas party for the kids

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Most of the kids had this yellow drug-infusion tube attached to their hand.

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It was a bit of an irony to see healthy kids singing and dancing to all the sick kids in the audience. But I hope our little patients (and their parents) did have some fun that day.

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This little kid wished to become a superman. He was so thrilled to receive a superman shirt that he just ran around the stage and made everyone laugh.

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Some kids were too weak to join our outdoor party, so we visited them in their wards.

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This kid got a toy car

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This little one wished to get a new dress

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She wished to get a new pair of shoes

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This particular kid did not want to open his gift right away, but he was very happy to get one.

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Some kids were so weak and tired after their chemo round, they could not wake up, so we just put our gifts on their bed.

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Some beautiful gifts could not be delivered to their right requesters. We were late 😦

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