The Boat People: Part 2


Thirteen year-old Thu’s journey aboard an overcrowded fishing boat at sea continued for weeks. When I asked her why it took so long to find land, she said, “The captain didn’t know where he was going.” Thu explained that after three days of hiding in an oil well, it was determined that it would be safe for everyone to come out of hiding “and then the pirates came.”

“We were attacked two times by pirates. First time, they took all the money and jewelry that people brought with them. Second time, they took the pretty women. My eldest sister knew they would do this, so she made us look ugly by covering our hair and faces in oil.”

Eventually, the boat ran out of food and fuel but reached land. “It was an island. Nobody lived there before. We would go into the jungle and find anything we could to eat, some of the men caught fish but it wasn’t very long before the Americans came. The Red Cross and The Salvation Army. They took us to Thailand.”

In Thailand, Thu and her nine other siblings stayed in a refugee camp waiting for someone to ‘sponsor’ them. Sponsoring a family of ten would require the sponsor to show proof of ability to house and provide for them in their new host country. That was unlikely.

Thu’s family was advised to separate in order to increase their chances of being sponsored. They refused. So, as others were leaving the refugee camp to start new lives, Thu’s family stayed and waited.
...To be continued

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