Loan Le: A Vietnamese Refugee Story

Loan Le: A Vietnamese Refugee Story

This is at Bidong Island People left the boats they came on there as memories This is the statue of Grandfather Bidong on the island That’s the Jetty Bridge My name is Loan Le I lived in Vietnam, in Saigon I left on my journey at the end of ’89 I arrived in Bidong Island in 1990 and I lived there for a year And then I switched to the Sungai Besi camp And then I lived there for 6 years So I lived on Bidong and then Sungai Besi, a total of 7 years On the journey, we went for a short distance. We stopped in Cambodia I went with a group of 13 people, including the guide We had to follow them wherever they went, we weren’t allowed to look around our surroundings So after we went to a resting house, where we rested We rested and in the middle of the night, they woke us up We got on a train that took us to a bay we got on what they call a “taxi”, which took us from a small boat to a big boat And during that time when we got to the train, they told us to get ready they would throw a white flag and that would tell us to jump off the train, it would bring us to a worn-down path which they burned, which we had to run down They burned it because they were afraid of mines blowing up There was smoke rising up so we could see where we were running We ran for two kilometers and then they told us to stop Once we arrived at the bay, we waited there for a small boat But I waited, and the boat never came And they told us to leave everything behind And swim out to the bay to get on the big boat And in that moment, I didn’t know how to swim But I just went anyway And the water was up to my eyes I saw someone swimming out wearing a white shirt and I grabbed onto the collar of his shirt He told me “let go, let go” but I was persistent and did not let go I was thinking to myself that I might die If I let go, I would die So I started praying, “Mom please save me, Nam Hai, save me” (Buddhist prayer) So i prayed that and for some reason that person brought me over to the bigger boat, he swam over to the bigger boat He held onto the rope, and then I grabbed the rope, and then I looked up someone pulled us up onto the boat and at that point I had already drunk a stomach full of water At that point I realized if that person didn’t save me I would have died Boat People SOS helps a lot of refugees but not only refugees Like bringing families over from Vietnam and anything you need, they’re there to help you with Like doing paperwork for free, or anything like government aid and all types of things

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About the Author: Sam Caldwell

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