A Tragedy of an Endless War


With her 27-year-old son on her back while carrying 25-year-old son, the mother must live day-by-day.  Simply going to work is a luxury…. These people are the victims of the use of defoliant during the Vietnam War.

Although many assert different claims about these unfortunate people, whose full-time job, as it seems to have become, is to be given the support they need, it’s only a small number among all the victims that are under the care of designated facilities, and many victims can only sustain their livelihood by relying on the supply of support materials.  These people talk very little about the past.  They must focus all their energy and attention on living each day, and they do try to maximize the joy of the moment, however little the source of joy might be.

In the city of Huế, one of the worst battle-hit cities during the Vietnam War, a group of people, mostly, if not all, former teachers during the war, has been supporting the victims of the use of defoliant chemicals during the war.  The average age among the support group members is over 75.  During my visit, I was the youngest of the group, and as a visiting researcher, I toured 4 different locations where families with disabled family members due to defoliant chemical, about 200 of them, care for and support one another.  Not only was it to research their current situation, but it was also to offer them something different from their ordinary days, in short, “today’s joy (a joy for the day)”.

It’s so easy to describe it in a few words like, “a tragedy from war”. However, I have come to a revelation that the tragedy is not something of the past; it is rather something that is going on still today that people are still fighting tooth and nail against, albeit silently.

These photos were uploaded with permission.

Click here to read more about “Behind the Scene of Humanitarian Support Activities ~ What I’ve learnt through humanitarian support activities.”