(As promised, here is the draft in English....sorry for the overdue!)
Vietnamese Land Refugee fellows who once sheltered at Site 2 north and South camps along Thai-Cambodia border between 1984-1986, may recall of a little boy, but active and smart, mince and polite who every morning and any time of the day, used to loudly call people name on the speakers of the camp in order reaching all patients who had been elected to transfer to Khao I Dang hospital, where they were treated , followed up and or got surgery (i.e Cataracts, tumor removal, or those medical procedures that was unavailable at the border). That was the little boy named Luong Chuong Thong AKA Wah Chay , he was only 12 years old at that time. Perhaps and almost certain that he was the youngest refugee volunteer at the border camps.
The day Wah Chay applied to work at the OPD/Hospital made surprises to lot of people, some even concerned and being nervous of his age…Especially Dr. Robert Brand, acting as general director and chief of staffs at the COERR Site 2 hospital (now living in the Netherlands). Because to let or hire someone at the minor age, even as volunteer, is an issue and in view of labor law is not imperative (for the western culture, this is a no-no). However, an agreement without signature, no paper, no ink…a mutual contract that engaged this boy became a volunteer for the OPD/Hospital…as volunteer, we did not receive any redemption for our work or time…but as a reward we each received from COERR and WFP/UNBRO a weekly ration of rice,bean, canned fish…our work is the labor of passion. After all, to have opportunity to serve our people was a privilege. Next to have a chance to learn and interact with “farang” or NGO’s volunteer was a big initiative.
Wah Chay could speak as many languages Vietnamese, Chinese, English, Thai and Khmer. He was happy to be part of the team. And to the team, he was a plus for us, where communication at that time was limited, no internet (?) no email, no social network, not even a phone, only NGO’s had the luxury access to Walkie-talkie Motorola channels but not the refugees. Wah chay was a messenger as well. After school (which was nearby), he ran to the hospital and waiting for order of duty. It seemed he spent more time at the hospital than at his shelter. Almost every medics and staffs returned to their huts, but we had seen Wah Chay was overtime around the hospital…sometimes till late 1 or 2 AM , whenever we got special case needed to transfer to Khao I Dang or to Rythisen ARC hospital.
Despite of the hot, the cold and dry of the border climate, Wah Chay with his “limousine” bicycle of the hospital, moved back and forth between the hospital and the MSF laboratory with all kind of samples from patients (blood, smears, stool, urine, sputum, bofy fluid…) like a professional medical transport, then waited for results back for MD or nurses to diagnose and treat patients as quickly as possible.
Fleeing out of Vietnam due to the oppression of the Vietnamese communist regime against to the minority ethnic in 1980’s like many million other citizens , and because Wah Chay’s family natively are Chino-Vietnamese. He was too young to understand the meaning and the essential of Freedom perhaps, but the hardship and ordeal life in Vietnam is definitely having a negative impact for his life. He and his mother, like everyone else, exchanged their dignity for freedom. Arrived at border camp after a long and hard journey, they stayed in the camp for another 4 years prior to reunification with his brother in Australia.
Wah Chay is non-Christian, but he gained the most sympathy and love from many NGO’s. Especially those Catholic priests like the late Fr. Jean Houlmann , Fr. Pierre Ceyrac, Fr. Thomas Dunleavy and even the Thai task force rangers. Because to those, serving others while you are suffering yourself is as good as serving to God’s willing indeed.
Besides the hours dedicated at the hospital as volunteer, Wah Chay also participated with many other youth friends in the Boy Scout family.
By 1986, He and his mother left the camp for Australia….Another new journey, new life began…He’s now known as Nelson Thong.
Recently Nelson determined to trace his old friends those once with him, shared and worked together in serving their folks in the camps….for him those days taught him lot of precious lessons, for surviving in both physical and spiritual ways….and those who to him, like his family members.
His voice on speakers in the camps 27 years ago now echoed again in some of us, who ever been treated at the hospital, whose name ever once called by Wah Chay in a morning for a medical procedure or treatment or transfer to inside of Thailand, Khao I Dang for advanced medical treatments. To Wah Chay, we appreciate his work, his time for helping us. He really made our daily task certainly more easier.
Wah Chay now is living in Sydney, Australia with a beautiful family. He is working at Department of Family and Community Services Housing Agency of Australian government in NSW to help locate and look for shelter for others.
We are delighted to re-connect with Wah Chay after quite somes of almost 28 years apart…Our story has been recounted …with joy in tears. This draft is nothing could describe his entire story, we hope one day he will tell us his side of story in his own words. I am not a writer but I write those with my adoration to a little friend of us , with hope illustrating some portrait so his work is remembered along with others as well. I have to admit my English is not sufficient to convey all what I meant.
Thank you Wah Chay again for what you had done for your fellows and we are happy to hear from you again.
|ID Badge for Medic at COERR VNLR Site 2 hospital|
|ID Badge for Medic at COERR VNLR Site 2 hospital|
|With Martine Bourquet ICRC delegation at Site 2 North OPD|
|Wah Chay was under oath to be a good BoySCout at Site Two Camp...from that day... He has been "Be Prepared" as Baden-Powell famous motto ...|
Bà con cô bác trại tỵ nạn ̣đường bộ năm nào....còn nhớ một chú bé nhỏ con nhưng rất lanh và thông minh...cứ mỗi sáng hay bất cứ lúc nào OPD hay bệnh viện COERR của Trại cần thông báo phát thanh trên loa...gọi bà con có tên đi Khao I Dang để giải phẫu
Thậm chí các bác, các chú, các cô làm chung OPD
Không ngại khổ cực...những ngày nắng gay gắt và lạnh buốt của Biên giới Thái-Miên....Hòa Chảy phải chạy "Limousine" hai bánh của OPD đem những mẫu nghiệm máu, nước tiểu, phân , đàm....ra ngoài phòng laboratory MSF nằm ngoài "sằn cách" 4,5 km....rồi chờ lấy kết quả về giao cho Bác sĩ, Y tá...rồi sau đó lại đi kêu bệnh nhân lên để được chữa trị một khi kết quả cho thấy bệnh lý rõ ràng...
Bỏ nước ra đi trốn chạy Cộng sản vì bị ngược đãi do có gốc người Hoa, gia đình Hòa Chảy cũng như những gia đình Hoa kiều khác, chỉ có hai mẹ con mà thôi...bán sống bán chết đến được trại tỵ nạn, có anh ruột đi trước định cư tại Úc Đại Lợi, nhưng cũng phải mất gần bốn năm sau mới được chấp nhận định cư đòan tụ tại Sydney, Úc...
Hòa Chảy không có đạo công giáo, nhưng các cha lại thương Hòa Chảy...vì trong giới nhân viên thiện nguyện ai ai cũng biết Hoà Chảy , nhất là Cha Jean , Cha Pierre , Cha Tom...không kể đến các Bác sĩ , y tá ngoại quốc đến làm việc cho trại...rồi ngay cả mấy chú lính Thái cũng thương Hoà Chảy.
Ngoài những giờ làm việc cho OPD/hospital , Hoà Chảy còn tham gia hoạt động sinh hoạt với các bạn của mình trong gia đình Hướng Đạo.
Năm 1986 , Hoà Chảy và Mẹ lên đường đi định cư....từ đó cuộc sống mới theo năm tháng....Nelson Thong begins his new life...a new journey....
Mới gần đây, Nelson Thong, hay Hòa Chảy ngày nào, đã lần mò tìm lại anh em bạn bè, những người mà Hoà Chảy đã từng chung lưng, làm một việc gì đó cho bà con cô bác ở nơi, ở lúc cần nhất....Ai đó trong chúng ta cũng có lần bệnh, hay cần chữa trị tại bệnh viện COERR Site two south...chắc còn nhớ chú bé nhỏ con....đạp chiếc xe đạp lên xuống...tiếng kêu lanh lãnh " OPD xin mời bà con có tên dưới đây hãy lên gặp bác sĩ gấp...." " bà con có tên dưới đây hay đem theo giấy tờ....để được chuyển lên Khao I dang ngày mai lúc 8 giờ sáng...".....
Hòa Chảy hôm nay, dưới mái ấm gia đình cùng hai con , một trai một gái....cũng đang theo làm cho chính phủ Úc trong chương trình giúp đỡ về gia cư cho mọi người.
Cảm ơn Hòa Chảy ngày nào...đã bỏ công sức và tuổi thơ của mình để giúp cho đồng bào mình tại trại tỵ nạn Site two....
Thank you Hoà Chảy...
We are happy to hear from you again.
|Hòa Chảy...with red shirt in the middle of Vietnamese Land Refuggee paramedic and Canadian Nurse Luc Payant, Thai Nurse Phi Yoou ...posed together in between of hospital pharmacy and main ward..|
|Hòa Chảy with Parinya , A Thai Nurse at OPD site two north, Peter Chuong Opd and Ngô Kinh|
|Chảy with other paramedics and George Town residents...Dr. Ann, Dr.????in front of COERR site 2 south hospital|