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Pet-loving expat in HCM City makes wheelchairs for handicapped animals



Oscar Fernando Ruiz Bonilla (left) and his Vietnamese wife Trần Anh Thư (right) with two of their disabled pets. Oscar has been making wheelchairs for handicapped animals for around four years in Việt Nam. — Photo courtesy of Trần Anh Thư

Việt Dũng

HCM CITY — Driven by a deep love for pets, a Colombian expat in HCM City has been making wheelchairs for disabled dogs and cats for about four years.

Oscar Fernando Ruiz Bonilla, 44, first came to Việt Nam in 2016, when he opened a Colombian restaurant. He adopted Moto, his first disabled dog, and began making pet wheelchairs.

In 2017, he launched a charity programme called Forever Wheelchair to make wheelchairs for other disabled pets.

Wanting to focus more on helping animals, he closed his restaurant in 2019 to pay full attention to Forever Wheelchair. Then in 2020, he set up his company named Forever Wheelchair, while still maintaining his charity activity.

Oscar explained to Việt Nam News that he wanted to provide better chairs for disabled pets than the ones he had previously bought because some of them had sharp parts that injured his dogs.

“Some of these manufacturers do not live 24 hours with handicapped animals, so they only understand some parts of what they need. We live with the animals all the time, so we try to look at how to improve every detail to make their lives easier.”

“Everything is about the love and passion that we feel for the animals, and especially handicapped animals, because their special condition makes it difficult for them to be adopted and easy for people to abandon them. Their condition needs special care.”

Based on his experience with his adopted disabled pets, he has designed his wheelchairs to be as comfortable as possible, with suspension forks, stable bars and lightweight parts to help pets move about freely over different types of terrain, without fear of tumbling over.

Oscar spends up to 16 hours working on designs and prototypes every day, and has taken online courses to gain more knowledge about wheelchair crafting and animal anatomy.

Oscar helps his disabled dog use its wheelchair. His love for animal has motivated him to make his wheelchair design as comfortable as possible. — Photo Việt Dũng

Forever Wheelchair’s charity activity is Oscar’s main way of helping disabled pets. Locals contact his business for help with a handicapped pet, after which he will call for support from donors to sponsor a wheelchair.

As a result, many households who cannot afford such items now have high-quality wheelchairs for their pets.

For Oscar, helping disabled pets not only improves the pets’ lives but also their owners’ as well, who can be less stressed about taking care of their beloved animals.

So far Oscar and his team has made around 500 wheelchairs for disabled dogs and cats.

Every month they receive around 30 requests for help for handicapped animals. They also get a lot of help from Vietnamese and overseas donors, who raise funds to make wheelchairs for animals in need.

Oscar and a co-worker examine a wheelchair part. He spends many hours working every day, and has taken online classes to improve his design skills. — Photo Việt Dũng

A big, happy family

Oscar lives in Thủ Đức City with his Vietnamese wife, Trần Anh Thư, and around 10 dogs and cats, five of whom are disabled.

Trần Anh Thư, a doctor, recalled the first time she met Oscar, when he helped her find a suitable place for her to live with her two pets after moving out of an apartment that was not pet-friendly.

“I know that he had been making wheelchairs for animals before we met each other. It is because of his love for animals that I chose him to be my life partner,” she told Việt Nam News.

Oscar and his wife play with their pets at a nearby park. His wife said that she chose him as her husband because of his love for animals. — Photo Việt Dũng

Thư helps with Oscar’s business and activities by managing their social media promotion and connecting him with other Vietnamese by translating.

“She is helping us a lot in our journey of helping handicapped animals in Việt Nam. Forever Wheelchair has improved a lot since her joining. She is also my moral support,” said Oscar, beaming with joy when talking about his partner.

They walk their family of dogs and cats twice a day and gently help their pets get into their wheelchairs before letting them frolic around the nearby park, unhindered by their missing limbs.

Oscar tries to always allow his pets to have a walk two times a day, since they cannot walk freely and easily, and he does not want to miss out any opportunity for them to do so, according to Thư.

To Oscar, a handicapped animal is just like a handicapped person. All they need is special care. “Taking care of a handicapped animal is not easy but not impossible. Please don’t abandon your pets.”

“They are always positive and strong. Our handicapped animals teach us that even if you have such needs, you can still be happy. If people don’t have money, they can contact Forever Wheelchair, and we can ask our network of friends to help people’s handicapped animals.” —



Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay-Cat Ba Archipelago recognized as world heritage



The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago to the World Heritage List on Saturday night (Vietnam time).

UNESCO announced the new inscription of the Vietnamese site to the list at the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at 9:39 pm (Vietnam time) on the same day.

Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago is Vietnam’s first inter-provincial UNESCO-listed world heritage site.

Cat Ba Archipelago in Hai Phong, a major port city in northern Vietnam, is the largest limestone archipelago of the country. It includes over 360 islands, including Cat Ba Island to the south of Ha Long Bay.

The archipelago had earlier been recognized by UNESCO as a world biosphere reserve, the government news site reported.

Ha Long Bay in neighboring Quang Ninh Province was named by UNESCO as a world heritage site twice in 1994 and 2000.

Lan Ha Bay in Cat Ba Archipelago in Hai Phong City, northern Vietnam. Photo: Ngo Tran Hai An / Tuoi Tre

Lan Ha Bay in Cat Ba Archipelago in Hai Phong City, northern Vietnam. Photo: Ngo Tran Hai An / Tuoi Tre

The Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago cluster boasts a rich diversity of island and ocean ecosystems, reported Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper.

The newly-recognized world heritage site is home to various rare animals and plants, and houses the country’s largest maritime forest with an area of more than 17,000 hectares.

In September 2016, the prime minister allowed the Hai Phong City administration to work with authorities in Quang Ninh Province to plan the nomination of Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago as a world heritage site.

Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago was added to the World Heritage List due to the beauty of its natural landscapes, including charming vegetation-covered limestone islands, breathtaking limestone islets, and impressive karst formations.

Ha Long Bay - Cat Ba Archipelago is Vietnam’s first inter-provincial UNESCO-listed world heritage site. Photo: Tien Thang / Tuoi Tre

Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago is Vietnam’s first inter-provincial UNESCO-listed world heritage site. Photo: Tien Thang / Tuoi Tre

Before the new addition, Vietnam was home to eight UNESCO-recognized world heritage sites.

Among them are Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh Province, Ha Long Bay, the Hue Imperial Citadel City in Thua Thien Hue Province, Hoi An Ancient Town and the My Son Sanctuary in Quang Nam Province, Thang Long Imperial Citadel in Hanoi, the Citadel of the Ho Dynasty in Thanh Hoa Province, and the Trang An Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province.

The 45th session reviewing the sites nominated for the World Heritage List was attended by Associate Professor Dr. Le Thi Thu Hien, head of the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, and Ambassador Le Thi Hong Van, head of the Permanent Mission of Vietnam to UNESCO.

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In Vietnam, woman helps disabled husband fulfill wish of organ donation



The wife of a disabled man in Hanoi who was declared dead from a brain hemorrhage donated his organs to save the lives of others, according to his wishes.

D.T.B., 43, passed away but his heart, liver, and two kidneys still survive in the bodies of others, Hanoi-based Viet Duc University Hospital said on Wednesday.

N.T.H., B.’s wife, said she and B. got married in 2008 and have raised their son and daughter together despite obstacles and difficulties.

B. worked as a cargo transporter and H. as a rice farmer, scrap trader, and domestic helper to make ends meet.

Her family lived in a nine-square-meter house before recently moving to a larger home.

H. has been undergoing thyroid disease treatment at an oncology hospital over the past eight years. However, the disease developed into thyroid cancer last year.

While receiving treatment at the hospital, she was informed that her husband had collapsed while resting after work.

B. was rushed to the General Hospital of Agriculture where doctors found that he had suffered brain hemorrhage and his heart had stopped beating.

H. hurriedly returned home to see her husband for the last time.

Suppressing the pain of losing her husband, H. requested that his organs be donated, according to her deceased husband’s wishes.

According to H., B.’s dream of donating his organs was ignited after watching a report on organ donation in 2009 and deciding he wanted his organs to be used to help other continue their lives.

Despite her family’s protest, H. had B.’s body transported to Viet Duc University Hospital where his organs were donated.

“Whenever someone told me that he would hurt, I smiled and replied that was his wish. He left but still did good things for life,” H. shared.

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Vietnam’s Mekong Delta to host first trail race in November



An Giang Province in southern Vietnam is set to host a trail running competition on November 22 this year at the Cam Mountain tourist area, located in the province’s Tinh Bien Town.

The provincial Center for Investment and Trade Promotion and the administration of Tinh Bien jointly held a press conference on Thursday to announce the Cam Mountain Trail 2023, the first trail race in the Mekong Delta region.

The tournament is co-organized by the Victoria Chau Doc Hotel, the Victoria Nui Sam Hotel, Vietrace365 JSC, and the management board of the Cam Mountain tourist area.

The Cam Mountain Trail is expected to promote physical activity habits and the trailing running trend in the area as well as across the country.

Le Trung Hieu, director of the provincial Center for Investment and Trade Promotion, said the event will enable An Giang to promote its tourism, cultural customs, and local specialties, aside from spreading a positive message to keep a healthy lifestyle.

Running enthusiasts from beginners to athletes are welcomed to take part in the sports event, which offers runners 5km, 10km, 21km và 42km races through stunning landscapes including lush forests, mountain passes, and tourist attractions.

Some trails of the upcoming Cam Mountain Trail 2023. Photo: Courtesy of organizer
Some trails of the upcoming Cam Mountain Trail 2023. Photo: Courtesy of organizer

The participants are required to finish their races starting from delta areas to the top of Cam Mountain within 7-8 hours.

The first finishers of the mentioned-above distances will be awarded medals and the respective sums of VND3 million (US$124), VND4 million ($165), VND5 million ($206), and VND7 million ($290).

Up to now, around 1,000 runners have registered to join the trail race, according to the organizer.

Since the Cam Mountain Trail 2023 is the first of its kind in the delta, the organizer limits the number of runners in the competition at some 1,300 only. 

The figure will be revised up in the next few years if local lodging facilities are able to offer their services to more runners.

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