Limbless Australian speaker shows Vietnamese counterpart the way

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Nick Vujicic speaks with eight-year-old Nguyen Linh Chi and her mother on the stage at the My Dinh stadium in Hanoi Thursday. Photos courtesy of AFP

Australian motivational speaker Nick Vujicic, who was born without limbs, has hoped that a Vietnamese girl with a similar disability will become an inspirational figure like him.

At Hanoi's My Dinh stadium Thursday, where he addressed mostly students and other youngsters, he told eight-year-old Nguyen Linh Chi that he hopes she would have a happy family like he does and become a motivational speaker, or at least do what she dreams of doing.

The 31-year-old was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs. He once tried to drown himself to escape bullying as a child, but managed to go on and is now married with a healthy son born recently.

Chi from the nearby Yen Bai Province was brought to the stage by her mother while Vujicic was addressing an audience of some 25,000.

The girl was too shy to speak in front of the crowd, but she brought a portrait of him she had painted with her feet.

Vujicic spoke to her mother through an interpreter, telling her that their love and encouragement would help the girl overcome the pain and hurt she would feel on many occasions.

He also tried to encourage Chi to believe in God.

"Do you know why I love God?" he asked her.

"Because heaven is real. And one day when we get to heaven, we are going to have arms and legs. And we are going to run, and we are going play, and we are going to race."

He later talked more to the girl and her family backstage.

He left Vietnam Saturday for Cambodia.

Vujicic had arrived in Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday and delivered a speech there.

He was welcomed by many young people with the adulation normally reserved for pop stars, with hundreds turning up at airports.

But security was tight with no one, including reporters, allowed to approach him.

Le Phung Hao, one of the organizers of his trip, said they had planned a simple, warm welcome as Vujicic requested, but the adulation he got was unexpected, forcing them to beef up security. 

They were also afraid the crowds would cause traffic jams and affect his busy schedule.

His visit was sponsored by iron roofing producer Hoa Sen, who provided VND36 billion (US$1.72 million), including $23,000 worth bank saving books gifted to 24 inspiring disabled people invited to the event.

Vujicic himself received $50,000 for his charity fund, according a source from Hoa Sen group.

His charity had revenues of more than $1.6 million last year.

He has been to 46 countries delivering speeches for around 15 years since he was 17. His YouTube videos have been watched millions of times and he has authored three bestselling books, all having been translated into Vietnamese.

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