16 November 2010

Journey of a Vietnamese boat refugee

War is not the answer

This year is the 30th anniversary of the first Vietnamese boat people arriving in the Netherlands. The journey of a Vietnamese boat refugee is rarely spoken about, but it’s a journey that means a whole lot for my generation.

This is not the time or the place to give you a history lesson about the Vietnam war. Everybody has their own opinion about it. Fact is that the country got in hands of the communist regime, making it unbearable for many Vietnamese people to live in their home country. Many people, especially the people from the South, risked their lives by fleeing their country by boat. My father was one of these boat refugees.

You need to realise that these people had to leave everything they know and love behind. Once you do manage to get on one of the boats, you're ‘stuck’ with tons of others who don’t know if they will ever reach a destination. Many lives were lost during the journey on the unstable boats out on the open see.

Imagine having to leave
everything you know and love behind

My dad was one of the lucky few who were rescued by Dutch sea freighters. I can only imagine what he has been through to be able to give my family the life that we have now. It’s something that I have never heard him talk about. In the Vietnamese culture, it’s not common to talk with your parents about these things. So I took it upon myself to research it over the years. Here is a video of the journey of the Vietnamese boat people that I have edited. I used it as an introduction of my monologue during the final presentation of my thesis:

The journey of a Vietnamese boat refugee has had a huge impact on my life. If these people didn’t took the risk and without the sea freighters from all over the world, my generation would not exist. It has been 30 years since the journey. It might not be forgotten, but it’s not often talked about either. The memories for people like my dad will always be very vivid, so we (especially the people from my generation) should always honour them. We need to pass the story of what our ancestors have been through to the next generation. They have paved the way to give us the lives that we have today and this might never be forgotten!

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