Tri's story of being welcomed and cared for

The first-ever Christmas gift my father, sister, and I received, was the gift of refuge.

My family made several traumatic attempts to escaped Vietnam after the war. It was the fourth of these attempts that we made it out to the open sea, however this time with only half of the family able to get out. We then endured four days in a raging storm, which almost swallow us to the deep. The waves drove us to an unknown island, where our boat finally fell apart. Before we could rejoice that we were alive, we were surrounded by pirates, who took anything that was of value. We were then caged, tortured for a few days and some of the women were raped. These pirates then gave us up to United Nations Troops, who took us to a refugee camp on an island call Pulau Bidong, just of Kuala Lumpur. After a few months, My father sister, and I were the few fortunate among the 68 in our boat from Vietnam, that were accepted to come to Australia.

Along with this gift of refuge, that we received in 1982 from Australia, we were also given the most hospitable welcome and care by the people of Australia. We arrived at Midway Hostel, in Maribyrnong in 1982, with nothing in our hands. We were weary and overwhelmed, but the care and generosity of people fill us with great joy. We were free and we were welcome!

Among the many of the locals who came in every day to assist us, there was a community of people from Moonee Ponds Baptist Church, who invited us and drove us to their homes for dinners, or took us on outings and even taking us, strangers, with them on their Christmas vacation. We spoke hardly a word of English, but we soon learn from participating in the large family Christmas gathering on a farm in Cohuna. The next Christmas, we were invited to stay in a caravan with another family in Torquay.
This community worked tirelessly for 8 years, to reunite my father sister and I, with my mother and two brothers.
In October 1989, my mother and two brothers came out of the door at the airport, with not only my father, sister, and I waiting to welcome them, but 50 new friends, also welcoming them with tears of joy.

Thank you for giving my family this gift of refuge and freedom and thank you for your extraordinary hospitality and care. You have modeled to me what life can be and what is worth working for.


"And I wish you all the best for your future lives in this country, yourselves and your children, that in Australia your best hopes and aspiration for the future will be realised." MALCOLM FRASER, PRIME MINISTER 1975-1983:

"If we listen closely enough to the stories of others, an alternative story will emerge which will allow for the transformation to take place." Brueggemann?

"…nobody can change stories unless an alternative story is made richly available with great artistry, love, and boldness." Brueggemann?