There is a Home by the sea 120 km away from Hanoi called Thien Giao. At this place the residents’ hearts beat in unison for one hope, the hope that they will all be able to love and to be loved.
Thien Giao’s residents are victims of Agent Orange who were abandoned by their families. Mrs. Huong, the founder of Thien Giao, has taken 10 of them under her care, transforming them into members of a close-knit family. Everyone gets to learn some knowledge about farming, and how to carry out household chores such as cleaning or taking care of younger ones. Through these activities, the residents can both interact closely with one another and develop their own independence. It helps mitigate their aggressive tendencies and reduce the frequency of spasms.
I made my first visit to Thien Giao in 2011, and truth be told, it did not leave me with any lasting impressions. However, over a year later I made the trip again, and only then did I notice that something has changed about the place. It was that spark of inspiration that moved me to finally delve deeper into the special bonds among the residents, and to figure out how I can connect myself with them.
I am amazed and touched by the fact that two of Thien Giao residents, Hanh and Them, are getting married and forming a new family. These two individuals, after having spent a long time together in the home, have developed a deep emotional connection with each other.
Miracles do happen with time and love. The residents have displayed significant improvements in both physical and mental health. Now they require less medical attention, love and care for others, and have a positive outlook on life.
I have seen many documentaries about victims of Agent Orange that too often focus on their pains and despair. In this series of photos, I want to capture the positive interactions and happiness among these folks instead. Such small and elusive moments are rarely seen by outsiders, and it’s about time to cast a new light on them for the world to see.
Binh Dang is a documentary photographer based in Hanoi. His work either focuses on social implications or explore his private thoughts.
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