The following reflection was made by a young Vietnamese woman by the name of Joy Le Nguyen following a visit to some of the areas badly affected by the recent war in Viet Nam. She also visited children suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. In this reflection she calls on us to let compassion flow from our hearts to these victims of a horrible war legacy.
PLEASE TELL ME WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
Hi, my name is Joy. Growing up in peace, everyday I see the sun rises, hear the birds sing, smell the fragrance of beautiful flowers in my garden. Life is beautiful, I think to myself. Going to school, I learn History in the very early age, it’s all about war, fighting after fighting. I wonder why people keep hurting each other? What are they fighting for? It takes me awhile to understand that people are fighting for a “thing” called Peace! But how can Peace come when they keep fighting, hurting, bleeding, and dying? Those questions keep rolling in my head one after the other. Sometimes I think to myself as a young girl, “Why I keep thinking about war when now is peace-time?!” So I innocently forget about it without knowing that I am ignoring the price that our Vietnamese people have to pay generation after generation in order for me to have today. Even though the war has long passed, the pain and suffering are like thousands of needles still stabbing in “alive” Vietnamese people day-by-day.
As a Vietnamese immigrant, I came to the U.S with my family with our bare hands for a new life. Life was struggled, yes! 99% “furniture” in our apartment is picked up from the garbage-can; table, T.V, mattresses…almost everything we have now is from “Garbage Store”. We work so hard to keep the roof on top of our head and food on the table. Sometimes, we just laugh at our difficulties and struggles by calling ourselves Cow and Buffalo because they are one of the most hard-working creatures. Though, I never once in my life ask why my life is so difficult like this! Because I’m so fortunate to come to this life in peace-time, are born normally with my two arms, and two legs. Being able to go to school, making new friends, and studying new, valuable things in life. Being able to walk, talk, laugh, and cry whenever I want. I am free to express my feeling, that’s the most fortunate thing that a person can have. And the hardship I’ve been through is not even a pin-point comparing to the beautiful but unfortunate Vietnamese people that I visited in my trip back to Vietnam!
Five years living far away from Vietnam, I had a chance to visit my home-country in June 2010. Normally as a tourist, we want to go to beautiful places like beaches to take pictures and enjoy life. But no, it’s not where I want to go and what I want to do. I went to the poorest villages in Vietnam where “city people” have little attention or heard about them. I went to Khe Sanh, A So, A luoi, Cam Lo… where the battles were terribly fought. I want to know how the villagers live and what they do for their living. I want to know how the children go to school, and what medical centers they have…. There are so many things I want to know and there they are— “The Children”— the Agent Orange Victims lying on the floor painfully and screaming like wild “animals”. They are unconscious. They bite themselves. At first, I felt a little scare but then that feeling quickly disappeared and replaced by the pain, heartbreak, and tears….Oh, how can I tell you how I felt, my friends? My body was shaken and my heart was teared apart! They looked at me and screamed louder and louder like saying: “Sister, please help me! Please help me!” At that moment, I just wanted to run to them and hold them tight! Regardless their unconsciousness, looking deeply in their eyes, I told them boldly but quietly in my heart: “I’m here for you! I hear your calling!” Seeing the parents even made me feel worse. It seems like they ran out of tears, pain, and suffering for their entire life look after these children_they have nothing left but a dead heart! They live with a dead heart! The Agent Orange/Dioxin does not kill people like other weapons do; people die right away after they get killed and feel no more pain. Though Agent Orange kills Vietnamese with “higher level”, it “allows these people to live with dead hearts, to fall in love, get married like everybody else and give birth to abnormal children from generation to generation.” It seems to me that the routine keeps continuing endlessly. What a legacy! “Evil” is not a worthy word to describe how Agent Orange has affected on the health, mind, soul, and spirit of Vietnamese people! Agent what? Orange? No! It’s not Orange color! It’s Red—the color of “blood”! Everything has a price! I’ve learned that in order to understand how others feel, we have to put ourselves in their shoes! So, in order for the U.S. to understand how painful our Vietnamese—both dead and alive—have gone through, US has to put their shoes in ours! What will they do when their citizens are affected from Agent Orange/Dioxin? What price do they ask for? How much is the price? Well, the price is Priceless, it’s never enough!
I know I make a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes in this writing but I think Love requires no correct grammar. It can be well-understood by people who read it from the heart!
Let’s together make Agent Orange History. We cannot change the past but we can do something for a better, brighter and happier future. Let’s do everything in our power to make it reality!
Many people have sacrificed their lives for us; yes, for all of us who are so fortunate to know what life is, what happiness is; to fall in love, to succeed and fly high in life. Let’s live a meaningful life! Let’s do something meaningful to give back! It doesn’t matter what we give—just give! It doesn’t matter who we are, where we come from or what we do—just give! Even when we have nothing left, we still can give! Anything that we give from our heart counts! So let’s give!
Sometimes it’s not big thing that matter, it’s little thing that matter most!
I know I am not alone because I have YOU, my friend, who are reading this calling-for-help voice of mine! Together we can achieve more. So let’s do it together! Let’s give a helping hand!
When there is a will, there is a way!
With a willing heart, I believe nothing is impossible!