Vietnam: My Orange Pain

By Jaimie Bui.

It has been more than 50 years after the US military intervention in the Vietnam War; however, the weapons they used continue to harm the local population. “Herbicide Orange,” or also is known as “Agent Orange,” continues to claim new victims as the consequences of  the war. Herbicide Orange, which is highly toxic to humans, was used by the US Air Force to destroy forests where Vietcong guerrilla fighters (Vietnamese Communists) were taking cover for over a ten-year period. The severe consequence of this brutal chemical when it got exposed to human’s body was it not only harmed their health immediately, but also led to birth defects in subsequent generations. According to statistics, around 5 million people  currently have incurable or chronic diseases due to Herbicide Orange. Hence, unfortunately, its damaging effects are still being felt in Vietnam. Those unfortunates call it their “Orange Pain.”

I watched this documentary video named “Vietnam: My Orange Pain.” It started off by showing a morning routine of Hang Thanh Le, whose father had fought in the war and been poisoned. She was a victim of birth defects caused by Herbicide Orange. The video shows how her morning has been different than the other happy normal kids in town. In the interview, Hang Le said that she acknowledged that was her fate and she couldn’t do anything to change it other than accepted it. She resigned to her fate and tried to move on with her life. She has thoughts in mind just like a regular girl, she is interested in a lot of things. She dreams that she could go travel around like normal people, but apparently she cannot due to her defects. She also dreams of running a jewelry store with the help of her family. All she is doing for now was focusing on the positive side of life and hoping for the better.

The video then shows other kids who all were victims of birth defects caused by Herbicide Orange. After the war, people started having kids with abnormalities. The parents had left their babies at some special care centers and never come back. That was “Orange Pain”  actually means. The babies all had different kinds of physical and mental disorders. Some suffered from brain cell degeneration, leading to muscular dystrophy and mental problems. Therefore, they could only stay inside at some sanitariums or centers for special care, and were isolated from the outside world.

The video also shows one special case of a pair of twins, Viet and Duc, who had their bodies conjoined since they were born. Shocking and frightened, their father had left right away when he saw them. Viet and Duc had been left at the center; they couldn’t get away from each other until they reached the age of six. With the help of Japanese for medical equipment and medicines, the surgery for detaching Viet and Duc occurred in 1988.

The documentary covers many more cases of Vietnamese people who were victims of the Vietnam war. Some lost their body parts or even their lives due to unexploded mines, and some developed cancers or other disorders due to being poisoned when they had fought in contaminated regions. The war destroyed everything, every family, every human physically and emotionally. Because of the war, many people live a hard life without any prospects. Specifically, for those victims of birth defects caused by Herbicide Orange, they can’t live a normal life or even find a job and have a future. This video had me mixed feelings. I’m sad for those souls who lying on their beds for the rest of their lives. At the same time, my love for them makes me appreciate what I have. I’m lucky enough to have a normal life, I should appreciate it and live it to the fullest!

 

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