Monday, October 1, 2012

Escape from Vietnam 1976

We went to the port the morning of our escape from Viet Nam to America and after much trying to overcome with much dilemas, we finally gotten on the ship by almost mid-night.  After a night and most of the next day, we thought we would be in Saigon, but when the ship arrived there, news was that Saigon
was too crowded with poeple from other cities;  Therefore, we must go to an island called "Phu Quoc".

We got to Phu Quoc and we were all put in an area with  guarded since they don't know which one among us was truly South Vietnamese or spy from communist regime that mixed in with the people. That first day was not easy for us to find food. There were people who lives there tried to help passing out water and food. Since my father was so sick, my oldest sister was pregnant, my brother in law took my two older sisters with him to go get water and food.  We had lived in a guarded family, well taken care of by my parents, and to  go fight with other people to get food and water was very frightening to us all. Any how, later, my brother in law came back with a pale of water and my sisters got one bag of rama noodle.  Eventhough, my father was ill, he and my mom refused to eat, they say for us to share that dinner since we needed more than they do...especially my pregnant sister. We managed to cook the noodles with alot of water so we can drink the broth to filled our  stomach...we stayed on that island for about two weeks and things did get better as we get more familiar with the people there.  My family end up get to go to Saigon, but that was a different journey among many of our journeys until we get to the United States.

I can never forget or ever want to forget those hard times, because it help me to appreciate my parents love for us, it's a love that nothing can be compared to. As a parent  now, I understand what they did and what it meant to sacrifice for your children's happiness and well. I am sure any parents who loves their children will  know what it means too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tribute to My Mother

My mom's health is getting worse every day, and she is not much herself anymore.  It saddened me to see how she has aged.  I remember how sharp she was in helping my dad raise us and in making many decisions at the last minute.

The morning we had an emergency evacuation from the town we were staying because the communist regime was moving in closer.  It was such a chaotic morning, people were running on the street tried to find ways to leave town.  My father was so ill at the time, and if it weren't for a close friend of my dad to come help us go to the port, we all would have stayed behind and my dad would have been killed.

We all got on his truck and realized my little brother was not there.  We were all panic and I can see
my mom's eyes were full of distress. The guns fire were getting closer and all the road to Saigon had
been closed. The sea was the only way out. My brother -in-law told us to all to go the port ahead and
he will go find my brother. My dad was so sick and almost unconscious. My mom had to make the
decision to let my brother in law go and chance to lose them both forever or we were all to stay behind
and face whatever comes. Within a minute she had to weigh between the lives of the family. She let
my brother-in-law left looking for my brother and we all went on our way. Mom cried so hard that I
thought she could die.  In the end, my brother-in-law found my younger brother and met up with us.

I have my own family now and in making daily decisions. I can't help but admire and respect my
mom for being such a strong person in taking care of her family. I realize now how hard it was  for
my mom then to make such decisions. We all want what's best for our children.  I love you Mom!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Teaching My Children to Appreciate

Summer break had just started and my children are home from schools.  Today I watched them gone shopping and come home with some new summer clothes. How wonderful for them to have such privilege.  I hope they appreciate the opportunity to have it. It reminded me of my first year here in the United States.

At fourteen, I came here with nothing brought from Viet Nam for we rushed out of the country on the very day South Viet Nam falls into the hands of Communist North Viet Nam. We left everything behind, our beloved relatives, our home and everything my parents had worked so hard all their life.  I learned the first lesson of how expensive freedom is. We started our lives here with the help from our sponsor. We spoke very little English and felt very lost. We have experienced many difficulties but I wanted to write about my first humuliation and lesson in value.

Since we have lost everything and we first need food and clothing.  Our sponsor brought us donated clothes from the people in the community.  I have picked out a few clothes that would fit me and wore them that fall to go to school.  I accidently heard one of the young girl in the school told her friends while pointing at me and saying that the clothes I had on are from her and her friends in the community.

Just like with many other difficulties we had encountered, I learned to swallowed any pride I had at fourteen; eventhough,  I was so sad inside my young heart, I felt like crying but I held my head high and told myself that that young girl didn't mean any harm and for me to have better life again, I would have to try harder, my first thing to do is to learn English if I want to succeed in this country.

Many years later, I told  my children this experience in hoping they will learn to appreciate life better.  The year my first child was in her eighth grade, my husband and I had joined this church in helping the new refugees who just came from Viet Nam, our daughter had a clothing drives from school and donated them  to the church that we were helping, she told us she did this from hearing my story over and over for so many years and she wanted to let us know that she was listening and she also  learned how to value and appreciate life.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Dad's Memorial Celebration

It's time to have a memorial for my father again.  It's been eight years since he has passed away.  I can still see the tender in his eyes when he looked at me when I come to visit.  All of us siblings and grand children gathered at his grave  after church on Sunday.

We say prayers, talk to dad regarding what happened to us for this past year, who's engaged, get married, have babies, graduation etc... just like when he was still with us;  afterward, we all went to my brother's home and have lunch, we also watch video of dad so that we can remind the younger members of the family of who he was and never forget him.

This is a tradition that we always celebrate to remember our ancesters.  I cherish this tradition because
it reminds me of who I am and where I came from, and also to help my children always know who
they are, too.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Education in Vietnam: Pen Pals from Different Grades

In Viet Nam at the time I was there, we had school either in the morning or afternoon, not all day like here.
I had the afternoon during my seventh grade year, because of this arrangement, the students came up
with a trend to meet the other student who sat at the same spot by writing notes and hide it in the
drawer of  the desk.  My school was all girls so I had an eleventh grader as my pen pal and  her name was Thuy.  We shared many things from dilemmas to dreams.  I benefitted, I think, because I was able
to ask for help with school work and ideas.  Her focus was more of dreams to have better life in the future.
We have written to each other everyday for almost a year, but I did not have the courage to go see her because I was younger and did not know what to do. School year is  near the end, one evening I decided to ride my bike to her neighborhood with the address she gave me. 

Where she lived was kind of out of the city zone, small houses were cluttered together.  The area was not what I have imagined in my young head but I was determined to find out about her.  I biked down the long dirt -gravel road to the front of this house, I call it a house but actually it was just a few poles standing and they have thick carton shelter around it, and I think inside rooms were separated by long thick  pieces of  curtains.  I walked around to the side and saw a young lady washing her hair. She looked up, saw me and froze. So did I.  Then she stood up, turned her back to me and said I should not have come.

She knew what I looked like from coming to school one afternoon with her friends. I told her that I wanted to meet her for knowing that next year we may not sit at the same spot.She told me she wanted me to leave, she didn't want me to see her, and  from the back I knew she was crying. I wanted to hug her, but instead I left because I was in tears too.  My heart was so heavy because I knew why she did not want to meet me.  Half of her face was wounded and scars badly. 

She wrote me one last note explaining that she was embarassed of how she looked because she was injured during a bombing attack at her old hometown when she was younger. She also lost her father. That's why her mom moved the  family to the city but by the summer they will move back home to live with
her grandparents.  They could not survive here at the city. She did not think I would come looking for her.

That's was the last time I heard from her.  She never wrote again but what she put in the "P.S." of  her letter  is what made me sad was  that "Did I know the lady who sell breakfast food in the basket, who had provided  my siblings and I breakfast most every morning was her mom?"

By Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at Department of State

The United States will remain diligent in pursuing progress on human rights in our high-level engagement as we pursue a wide array of security, economic, and strategic interests with Vietnam. In our discussions with the Vietnamese government, we emphasize that progress on human rights, including the release of political prisoners and freedom of religion, is a necessary part of improving United States-Vietnam relations. Secretary of State Clinton raised our human rights concerns with President Sang when they met at the November 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii. U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear has raised similar concerns in all of his high-level meetings since arriving in Vietnam last August, and he and the Mission regularly engage Vietnamese government officials, nongovernmental organizations, and other individuals as part of our Government's commitment to promote greater respect for human rights in Vietnam.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Vietnamese Torture South Vietnamese Protesters

As we all know, currently Viet Nam does not have much freedom of anything, especially freedom of speech or to express how you feel. 

There is a big movement going on now among the Vietnamese community inside Viet Nam and also here in the United States. We, all the people who believe in freedom are fighting for those who lives in Viet Nam, who  had expressed their feeling toward the goverment of Viet Nam of betraying their own people by giving in to China's requests and actions.  Those people were put in jail for many years, some had been released and have become very ill because of all the beating and torturing; some are still in jail and there is no justice whatsoever. 

Recently this one young man named Viet Khang, had written two songs and sang them himself. The songs were his way of protesting what Viet Nam government are doing to the country's land and its people.  He was captured and  is now in jail.  That's why we are having this petition  here in the United States, collecting signatures from everybody, so we can have a chance to meet with President Obama and the House to ask for help in giving back those people and Viet Khang their freedoms. We were asked by the White House for twenty five thousand signatures for them to be able to considering for us to meet the President.

As of today, we are far exceed from that numbers, last I heard is that we have over ninety five thousand signatures and still going strong till the dead line of March 05.  This is an overwhelming numbers.  I am a Vietnamese who believes in freedom and who loves my Viet Nam, I am glad I had this opportunity to do something for my people. 

I am hoping any of you, who see this and believes in freedom for all people, please do offer your signature for the release of those Vietnamese who are fighting for the freedom and security of Viet Nam by their own life.Thank you all.Thank you Viet Khang, a young person but his patriotism  is an act we all should follow.Chinese Torture South Vietnamese Protesters

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where is the Integrity of Vietnam?

Does Vietnam have any integrity at all?

A woman poisoned her husband with heartbreak grass because after he invited two friends over to get drunk, she saw a quick way to stop his drinking and beating on her forever.  Why is a woman and her children beaten regularly and community members come to the house and drink with the abusive husband for pleasure?

Poisonous porridge has become popular in Ha Gaing. Why would people in the area be attracted to a dish called "poison" and why would they risk eating something that if prepared incorrectly could kill? 

In my childhood, when we were still South Vietnam, we used our exotic gifts for their medicinal value, but not for excitement. 

We ate fish and chicken with herbs such as lemongrass, picked fresh coconuts and oranges off our own fruit trees. Snake has its place as a medicinal remedy and otherwise as a respected if not feared part of our local habitat. The same Burmese python recently outlawed for shipment from foreign cultures to the U.S., was a natural wildlife of our playground near the rice fields or by the Lai Gaing River.

I do remember one time when someone in my family ate snake but not as a gourmet food nor even as a meal. Thac's face broke out in horrible acne when we lived in Qui Nhon. She had always been the prettiest of my family, with beautiful eyes and skin. Because she felt the break out so ugly, Thac began hiding half her face behind her hair. One of my uncles on my mother's side came for a visit. When he saw saw Thac, he said, "I know how to fix that." When he left he said, "I'll be back soon with a cure."

Several weeks later, he returned with a pot of cooked meat stew. Uncle said to Mother, "Don't tell her what it is."

After Thach had eaten all she could hold, she asked, "Well, what is in this?"

"Snake meat," is all my uncle said. Thach groaned loudly.

Within two days, a miracle happened. Thach's face returned to her clear beauty.

One day, I hope our lost culture can still be saved.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tet Offensive

At this time of year, it is impossible not to think of the Tet and the battles that occurred on or around January 30, 1968. Previously the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army had not worked together in the war against South Vietnam. During this horrifying sequence, the North took several of our cities, later to be won back by the U.S. and South combined forces. As we fought to drive the North out of our land, we began to lose ground.

This segment of the battle to win back Hue was to be named the Massacre at Hue. Thousands of South Vietnamese were executed and 100, 000 of their homes lost as the North vindictively desecrated them one by one with bombs. Both the North and the South had agreed to ceased fire during the three days of Tet so people could celebrate, but the North did not keep their promise and attacked Hue and other cities nearby. Though these cities were all recovered, Hue was destroyed forever.

This is the saddest time of the war for all of my people. So many lives were lost unnecessarily. Though the war should have seemed winnable at this point, losing all these lives and all the destruction made us feel disspirited and made many feel they had no home in Vietnam.