Kim and Kevin in Viet Nam, Part Three

Friday, August 19, 2005

Part Three

This is the third of four photoblogs about our trip to Viet Nam.
Part One: (Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Sapa)
Part Two: (Central Viet Nam)
Part Four: (Saigon and South Korea)

Visiting Quang Ngai Villages

For two days, we stayed in Quang Ngai City, which is south of Danang, one of the main bases of operation for the American military in the Viet Nam War. This region saw extensive warfare, especially in the late 1960s. Our friend Do, who grew up in a local village, spoke of fleeing from one hamlet to another during his childhood years, as major portions of the province were destroyed by American soldiers trying to ferret out the Viet Cong. It is in Quang Ngai Province that the hamlet of My Lai is located, and it is here that the Madison Quakers, under the leadership of "Mr. Mike," has developed a micro-loan program for local women. They also have built a park and an elementary school. The two days were not pleasant, but we met many wonderful people and were greatly impressed by the project.

Hoang, our translator for the two days, and Kevin. Huoang is a former student of Mr. Do, who is the lead organizer on the ground for the Madison Quakers in Quang Ngai Province. Do made arrangements for us to go to these villages, as they are not open to tourists. In return, we interviewed villagers and tried to get a sense of their experiences

Miss Phu, former district chair of the women's committee for Quang Ngai Province, who played an important role in developing the micro-loan program whose recipients were were to visit this day

Miss Phu

Massacre at Hanh Tin Tay Village

Our first stop in Quang Ngai province was to the cemetary of this village, where, according to our partners, American soldiers killed 63 women, children, and old men in 1969. Two survivors still live in the village, one of whom we later met. I have to say that we burned incense on demand, without a chance for was as if we had commemorated something we hadn't yet absorbed. However, by the end of the two days, we began to have an inkling of the enormous cost of war.

The approach to the memorial

Government memorial. The isolation of this spot felt much more sacred than at My Lai, which we visited the next day. However, I wouldn't want wax lyrical about that -- it's also one of many atrocities unacknowledged by my country

Huong, the chair of the women's committee in the village, recounts the events

Huong tells the story of what happened

Miss Phu and Miss Huong

Preparing the incense

Remembering those who had died


Commemorating the massacre

List of names and ages of victims of the massacre


Visiting the Loan Recipients

The community area of the Hanh Tin Tay

The first loan recipient we visited in the village

Family photo with new school notebooks and pens we presented to each loan recipient's children

Another of the micro-loan recipients and her family

Family photo

He was offered, jokingly, I hope, for adoption

Family altar

Farmer working near home (one of the few men we saw that day)

One of the loan recipients, but also one of the few survivors of the 1969 massacre in Hanh Tin Tay commune

Her daughter


Her son

We say farewell

A woman who has made good use of her micro-loan

It takes about two years for a calf to grow and reproduce

Grass typical of these area, which is not suitable for rice paddies. It is, however, excellent feed for cattle

Loan recipient is able to rebuild and no longer lives in this thatched home

Her new concrete house

We share a lemonade

Huong, the village woman chair, who said I was the first American woman she had met

Cows seemed to be the main topic of conversation that day in Quang Ngai Province


Another calf

The end of your bovine education...

Water buffalos, while good for work in the rice paddies, are not considered as lucrative because they take longer to breed

We enter the first of two ethnic Hre minority villages to visit more loan recipients

Pigs came in second, only after cows

Village chair for the women's association. We rely on double translations from the villagers to Vietnamese to English



Ready for school

The television set belongs to the village and is hauled out for group viewing

Inside a loan recipient's house

Hoang translates