The Boat People: Part 3


A refugee camp worker in Thailand attempted to convince my hairdresser's family that splitting up the family of ten would better their odds at finding a sponsor. But they were bound to their promise of staying together so… they waited. The worker began a letter-writing campaign to find a home for Thu and her family.

It worked.

A couple in Pennsylvania who lived on a farm and had been sponsors for many refugees in the past, chose to sponsor them. “They did not want us to work for them. They only required that we would go to school”, Thu said with incredulity as she understood many Vietnemese refugees were sponsored for cheap labour.

I was stunned on so many levels. I couldn’t help but think of where I was at thirteen and the challenges that I faced…the orange miniskirt with the white go-go boots or the lime green bell-bottoms? Hmmm. When I told her what I was thinking, she said, “Sometimes, when my kids need a guilt trip, I tell them these stories.”

Thu’s mother eventually moved to the USA. Her father stayed in Vietnam. In our forty-five-minute hair cutting session I learned that Thu’s brother is a pharmacist, three sisters own a successful souvenir shop in New York City and Thu, a hairstylist is married and has three children.
Despite the fact that Thu maintained no desire to ever revisit Vietnam, she felt compelled to go when her father was dying. She and her siblings returned to their village. Things had changed for the better and she was glad that she went back “They have chocolate now” she said.
Thu and her family visit their Pennsylvanian sponsors annually at Thanksgiving. Thu's story made me count my blessings once again and I look forward to my next haircut.

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