Life in their adopted home of Waterford for people who arrived from Vietnam as refugees ten years ago.
In August 1979 the Irish government agreed to take in 212 Vietnamese 'Boat People' people who were fleeing the communist regime in Vietnam. Many of those who left ended up in refugee camps in Hong Kong before they were relocated.
There are now about 30 Vietnamese people in Waterford. Two extended families were part of the boat people escaping the Vietnam War and some others followed in more recent years. The Vietnamese people in Waterford live in local authority housing on the Ballybeg Estate.
Minh Dam says the majority of the refugees on his boat died. In the refugee camp he traded his wedding ring for 10 cigarettes, much to his wife’s dismay.
Tue Luong and her husband Thanh fled on his father’s fishing boat. She left everything behind, bringing only some water for her children.
Tue Khanh spent two months at sea existing on small amounts of food and water. She was afraid she would not survive.
The Vietnamese people in Waterford are rebuilding their lives in a culture vastly different to their own. Their realise the key to assimilation and earning a living is language. Many of them attend an English language class at Waterford Adult Education Centre taught by Ann-Marie Mulally.
Their progress is recognised at a ceremony in which they receive awards for English language proficiency from Minister for Education Mary O’Rourke.
It is a huge achievement for Tk Luong because
When I first went to Ireland I had no English, I didn’t know any words.
Tue Luong had no possessions and a small baby when she arrived in Ireland. When she needed something she could not ask anybody for help. Gradually she learned English and made people understand her. She finds the Irish weather very cold and says the cost of living in Ireland is much higher than in Vietnam.
Minh Dam loves the friendliness of the Irish people and even the weather suits him. However he says it is very difficult to make money in Ireland. In Vietnam Minh Dam worked as a geologist. Moving to Ireland meant starting from scratch and he now runs a mobile take-away. His life is very difficult as he begins preparing food at 2pm and his working day does not end until 3am.
A ‘Newsround’ report broadcast on 20 May 1990. The reporter is Michael Ryan.