- Posted April 30, 2010 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your Vietnamese journey
The Fall of Saigon,My Amerasian experience !!!
I am American ! I am American !!! The words came again and again, It was not shouted in the street of New York, Atlanta or any other American city,but in the street off Saigon now known as Ho Chi Minh city.
It was an hot day in may 1992,and I was an young Danish backpacker just arrived on my tour of duty as a world tour traveller,from Bangkok,next stop, cheap food and fun,but what I saw change my life forever.
Amerasians, American-Asians, or how do we cover it,what does it mean ? For me Amerasian are an child of an American citizen,that served in the US military, civilian contract worker and an Vietnamese mother,born during the war and left behind the 30 april 1975,when the old goverment collapse.
They ended up being scapegoat,for what happend during the war,treated like outcast among Vietnamese and the new goverment.
Only up later in the 80'ties they were allowed to come to USA under the ODP (Orderly Departure Program).
But in 1997 it all closed down,due to lack off money and interest,and they left behind an large group of amerasians,to fend for them self, forgotten again,now it was just to late.
Back to me. I was shunned to meet people my age, with blue eyes or with afro hair,tell me they are Americans !!! So why they are in Vietnam ??
Well the answer was" We are here,since our fathers forgot us,and now we try to get an visa for USA,so we can go and look for our fathers".
I felt wow !!!! How can I meet them again,they were around in the streets near the old french cathedral in Central Saigon,where ODP had their main office,with their aircondition and security.
But using connections,I found out they were living in Amerasian Transit Center in Damn Senh,an area in the outskirt of Saigon.The center was an part join American/Un-vietnamese place,where amerasians with family,from the outside Saigon,could live while they waite for interview and results.
The camp was an small USA,full of people in all colosr and sites,ages and genders.An place never to forget.
The moment I enter the camp I was welcomed as an brother,and I felt like one.They would die for me,they had nothing to give,poor, uneducated, no family, no love nothing, just their spirit.
I had everything, family ,love and a country to return to,but they still gave me something I never got before, an feeling of humanity.
I became friend with Arnold Doan and my Vietnamese friend Hung, we spend all the sparetime together ,and when I left Arnold cried,and it hurt.
Back home I kept contact with Arnold and Hung,and in 1993 I went to Philipines to meet Arnold in Philipine Refugee Processing Center in Balanga,Bataan.
An huge camp with 11 000 people,an place with murder, rape and high crimes. The camp suppose to help amerasians to prepare for their new life in USA ,in 6 month. But for many it was an hell of an new start.
We had an wonderfull reunion,and I did some volunteerly work in the camp for a while,before i went home,
Back home,an amerasian lady named Hang mailed me and ask to meet her amerasian friend back in her village,north of Saigon. Her friend really need help !!
1995,I was back to Vietnam. I kept the promies, met her friend Ngoc Mai, she begged me" Find my American father !! ",ok I do it !! But how ??
Had no idea, back home I contacted the US Embassy,the gave me the adress of the US Military, told me to send his info for them.
Based that we had good info,I also got hes record,last known adress.
More waiting time,and an letter from the father, YES he was happy.
After that an wave of letters came from Vietnam, amerasians desperate for help.I was walled,that time the internet was poorly,and contacts too.
Little by little I started to get in contacs with people that served in Vietnam,private investigators,and military groups,they all helped to put the puzzles together.
I made my first very simple homepage,with photos on,and more an more amerasians came up.I also kept my contacs with Hung for all those years,and he was wonderfull help and friend.
Now I had just been to Vietnam in december, I did an TV show, and an newspaper article in the biggest daily newspaper,about my work with amerasians.
As the first time and foreigner was in their newspaper about amerasians,that used to be very bad issue.
After that many people wrote me from Vietnam,and said I did an good job,that make feel ok
Today I look back, Amerasians made an better human being, it made me do things no one belive I could have done,I feel happy ,and I love all amerasians,they will always be my family.
Vietnam today,don't care to much about amerasians,they look in to the future, and no the past.
Amerasians are still in Vietnam,not becauce they want,but becauce America don't want them to come home.
My love for amerasians,keep me keep on going. Help me for keep that spirit.