Fleeing Saigon and Winning the Lottery

9 Jan

Greetings from Narnia!

Well, actually, I’m here in Denver, but we are in the middle of a blizzard.  It is January after all.  So what better to do in a blizzard than get a pedicure and have a glass of wine?  My thoughts exactly!

So there we were in the Ananda salon on this snowy afternoon and I was lucky enough to be sharing stories with the gals who worked there on topics such as culture, language, customs and a little personal history.  That was the best part, learning where they came from and why they were here.

Karen and Anna are both Vietnamese.  We shared stories of Indonesia and Thailand and they shared Vietnamese traditions and culture.  Then Anna began to tell us the story of how she came to be in the United states.  It was a short, sweet and very powerful.

After the fall of Saigon tens of thousands of people were fleeing the country and Anna’s parents were two of them.  The way that many people fled was in the water.  They took a small, rickety old boat and departed for a better future.  She went on to explain how they fully believed that there was no future for them there anymore in Vietnam and they were willing to risk everything for a better future, even death.  Once in the water they were at the mercy of the notorious pirates that sail the waters surrounding Vietnam.  The pirates have a reputation for being fairly ruthless when they happen upon other boats, especially refugees.  The pirates that approached Anna’s parent’s boat however, were not your typical pirates.  Luckily for them these were the good guys.

Anna’s parents were safely transported to Thailand where they stayed for a few years before becoming sponsored by an American family in 1978.  They have been here ever since then and have raised a beautiful family.  Anna said that sometimes her father sees her buying lottery tickets at the grocery store and he tells her, “Anna, we don’t need to play the lottery, we’ve already won.”

What an amazing story of life, passion, struggle and victory.  It really opened my eyes to the fact that no one in this country has had to experience something like that.  We don’t have to worry about evacuating or giving everything up to save our lives, it’s pretty cushy here and we should all feel so very privileged.

I love hearing stories like the one that Anna shared with me today.  It is raw and real and makes me put myself in their situation for a brief moment, it makes humanity seem closer and it puts life deeply into perspective.  Take nothing for granted!



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