At the tender age of 12 I began my first attempts at escaping the communists who had taken over South Vietnam. Most of my preliminary efforts ended early in the journey. I would run into the police or conditions weren’t right or I didn’t know where to go or how to get to a boat. It was always scary, never knowing who was lurking or waiting in the dark.
Part of what drove me to escape was my own family’s struggle. When I turned 9, my father was arrested and held in prison for 8 years. This caused a financial hardship on my family. I had to help with my mom’s business and also help with raising my younger siblings. For me, each day began at 2 AM. I had to get up to help my mom prepare desserts for her bakery. One of my jobs was to extract the seeds from lotus flowers that made up one kind of dessert she made. I would work for her in the early morning until school began. After school I would return to her street-side shop and work until evening.
Our situation wasn’t as bad as some in my country, but there were times when I saw my younger brothers and sisters hungry for food we didn’t have. I mentioned in an earlier segment that I was the 5th of 10 children. Two had passed away leaving 8 children at home. With my father in prison for 3 years by that time and no idea when—or if—he would be released, I finally approached my mom with the idea of escaping for a better life elsewhere; a life that would help me and my family. At first she was reluctant to allow it. But after a while, she agreed. We saw no other way.
In my next segment, I’ll begin to describe some of my attempts at escaping the lie of communism.