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Armless little girl, grandma happy together in Ho Chi Minh City

Despite financial difficulties and disability, an armless little girl and her grandmother peddle lottery tickets in downtown Ho Chi Minh City and find solace in each other.

Over the past year, residents in the vicinity of Ben Thanh Market, one of Ho Chi Minh City’s icons in the downtown area, have grown used to the sight of Tran Thi Lang, a 52-year-old lottery ticket peddler who invariably takes along her 6-year-old granddaughter Vo Ngoc An.
The duo have been together since An was born.

Tran Thi Lang and her armless granddaughter, Vo Ngoc An, are seen peddling lottery tickets in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.
On an average working day, the small-statured woman roams the street, deferentially asking potential clients to buy her tickets.

An also lent her grandma a hand by holding the stack of lottery tickets with her chin and eagerly trying to talk passers-by or diners into buying their tickets.
Though many shake their heads, the young girl is rarely discouraged.
An has no arms, with a finger-shaped stub sticking to one shoulder.

Her luminous eyes and chubby face offset a hunched gait caused by spine curvature.
Lang revealed that she sells around 150 tickets each day, and the grandmother and granddaughter return to their rented room on the city’s outskirts by noon, otherwise An will suffer.
“I feel uneasy leaving An in the rented room alone. Late last year, she had bouts of fatigue and much difficulty breathing.”  
The devoted grandmother and her ‘penguin’ grandchild are pictured inside their rented room.
The little girl was later diagnosed with spine curvature which resulted in a bent spine that exerts excessive pressure on her heart.
The doctor suggested a bone-arranging surgery to treat her condition, but Lang cannot afford the costly operation for the young girl.
At noon, when the pair run out of tickets, Lang takes her granddaughter to a bus station and catches a bus back to their rented room in Binh Chanh District.
At the end of an arduous working session, An’s smiles rarely fade from her face.
Back in their rented room, the limbless child flops onto the floor, gripping a glass with one leg and pressing on a spout with the other to get herself a glass of water.
After gulping down the glass content, she gets another glass and gives it to her paternal grandmother.
Apart from being armless, An was also delivered prematurely and weighed merely 1.7 kilograms at birth.

The devoted grandmother and her ‘penguin’ grandchild are pictured inside their rented room. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Her parents were too poor to take care of her.
Her paternal grandmother has tended to her since.
The twosome left their hometown in the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu for Ho Chi Minh City with hopes of eking out a better living.
“I can’t remember how many hospitalizations An has gone through. I’m worried sick when rushing her to hospital at night sometimes,” she said.
The middle-aged woman spends VND700,000 (US$31) each month on the rent of a 12m² poorly equipped room, located far away from Ben Thanh Market, where she and An peddle tickets for a living. She cannot read or write and struggles hard to pay the rent and buy milk for An, as the ailing child eats very little.

An has been denied education though she is now old enough to enter the first grade.
Despite being illiterate, the little girl is bright and infatuated with painting with her two legs.
She shared she has dreamed of becoming an artist.
An proudly showed some of her coloring notebooks containing childish items, drawn by her legs and suggestive of her artistic taste.

Lang gets up at 4:00 am every day to get ready for a day’s work.
She then wakes An up, wrapping the drowsy child snuggly with a towel and carrying her along by putting the towel over her neck.
“Now that she weighs 20 kilograms, I cannot carry her on foot for half an hour to the bus station. The towel does the job quite well,” she explained.