The girl who found solace and happiness in art

When ‘Lien’ first met Blue Dragon in 2010, she was barely able to communicate. Born with a hearing impairment and schooled in a system that rarely has the resources to accommodate for children with special needs, she was unable to use sign language. But a lot has changed for Lien since then.

Not only she has become an outstanding communicator, Lien has also found a new passion for painting. Her beautiful picture of a typical scene of the Lunar New Year celebration is the image Blue Dragon has chosen this year to feature in our Lunar New Year greeting card.

Lien comes from an underprivileged family that has been through very difficult times. Before arriving at Blue Dragon, both her lack of an ability to communicate and her struggles due to this difficult family situation had turned her into a very shy child. “She didn’t have any confidence,” recalls My, a Blue Dragon social worker and one of Lien’s sign language teachers.

However, Lien started attending extra sign language lessons at Blue Dragon and, slowly but steadily, that changed.

Blue Dragon provided her with a sign language interpreter for her therapy sessions, and her communication skills began improving. Blue Dragon also covered some of her basic needs, like school fees and transportation.

At Blue Dragon, Lien started joining picnics and outings, and took swimming lessons and hip hop classes, until one day, she stumbled upon art. She started attending art therapy sessions, and became fascinated by it.

Lien excelled at drawing, so she kept practising to get better. Through her talent, this determined 16-year-old regained her confidence.

Lien began to take on any challenges that came her way. She wasn’t afraid of trying any more.

Determined to improve her communication skills, Lien kept learning sign language, broadening her vocabulary and practising how to present in public. Her efforts bore fruit and, in 2019, she was asked to deliver a speech at the launching ceremony of the Research Center of Inclusion in Hanoi.

“She was so emotional, so inspirational, that half of the audience was weeping when she finished,” says My.

And Lien’s list of achievements doesn’t end there. When some artwork was needed to decorate the garden that children with disabilities and their parents had built together outside of Hanoi, Lien picked up her brush and created it.

When the Blue Dragon staff told her about the Paraart exhibition in Tokyo for artists with disabilities, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work. Her painting was selected and exhibited in the Japanese capital in 2019.

“Lien is so inspiring… Despite all the challenges she’s had to overcome, she irradiates positivity,” praises her My. Her beautiful art and powerful energy are the best possible way to wish everyone a happy Tet.

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