Today I cancelled attending an event in Baria/Vung Tau province and returned to HCMC from Vung Tau early so that I could be at Ton Son Nhat Airport when Le Thi Kim Chi and her father Le Thanh returned to Viet Nam after 6 months living in Tasmania, Australia. Kim Chi has undergone multiple surgery to rebuild her mouth and the bottom half of her face as well as re constructive work on both of her hands because of the hideous amount of damage she suffered as a baby when the oil from a lamp fell on her and caught fire.
The flight from Australia was due to arrive at 10am, but was delayed and subsequently Kim Chi and Le Thanh did not appear until nearly 12 noon. But I don’t think that her family, particularly her mother Em Thi cared about the long wait one bit. I’m sure that if she was to arrive tomorrow they would have sat patiently all night and I don’t think that anybody would have been able to move her mother from the seat that she eventually managed to get as near to the arrival door as possible. (They had been there waiting since 8am).
I don’t think that I’m capable of describing the scene when Kim Chi and Thanh finally emerged. Em Thi was so beside herself with emotion that she ran forward towards them but could not sustain the effort and she sank onto her haunches on the tiled floor crying and trying to jump up but collapsing again. It was beautiful to watch as each family member greeted them and to see the reactions of people who have been missing each other so much.
We did not escape the emotiveness of the moment and I am not ashamed to say that more than just a few tears rolled down my cheek, especially when I noticed Lisa and Em Thi crying in each others arms. A beautiful moment in time and one that I would not have missed for anything.
It was so good to see both Kim Chi and Thanh and the first thing that was so obvious was how much weight they had both put on. This is no doubt due to diet change and I’m sure that they will both take some time to adjust to the simple Long An food that they were once used to. The second thing that I noticed was how much more assertive and confident they both are. Kim Chi was always full of confidence but not so Le Thanh. However this morning I noticed that Le Thanh also has an air of quiet confidence about him that he did not have when I last saw them 6 months ago. He is physically bigger now and seems wider in the shoulders as well if that is possible.
Once again Kim Chi’s family greeted us warmly and wanted to know when we would come to visit them in their homes. They are insisting that we come and stay for three days and then go to the grandfathers house for another day. I was overwhelmed when we asked to go down there for a family wedding next February and I could not get over the genuine friendliness shown to to us, particularly by Em Thi’s father. He kept asking through Mimi when would I come and stay in his house and we can go fishing and visiting in the town. Apart from the fact that they do not have running water and only have squat toilets in their houses, we are really looking forward to going for this next visit.
I want to spend time talking with Kim Chi and find out what adventures she has had in Australia. I also want to find out if she has any plans or dreams for her future that maybe we can help bring about some how. We will go and visit with the family in Long An very soon.
Clicking on the thumbnail above will bring up the usual slide show of images.