III. The voice of conscience or inspiring stories
The \"legacy\" of Agent Orange is not only shown in scientific or economic fields. It can also be felt in human kindness! Someone has said these words when witnessing tragic lives, desperate efforts and even kindness like cool water, reviving the aridity of human life.
Lest us forget!
In the last days of 2020, when Vietnamese people are rushing to prepare for the Lunar New Year, far away in France, the fight for justice of the Vietnamese French woman - Mrs. Tran To Nga, was officially opened at the city of Evry (south of Paris). This is considered a \"historic trial\" as it marks a new turning point in the legal struggle that has lasted for the past 6 years, \"The unimaginable battle\" between a small woman with cancer - the legacy of Agent Orange, with the world powerful \"chemical giants\". The purpose of that legal battle has gone beyond the limit of personal interest. Because as shared by Nga with the press, it is \"a mission not for myself but to demand justice for those who suffer\". Even though there hasn’t been a verdict and whatever the court will decide, she still believes that justice will prevail. Because for her, as long as \"the Agent Orange disaster is widely known to the world\", it has already been an important victory.
Agent Orange victims - as one Western scholar puts it - are one of the \"most unpleasant visual legacies\", reminding us of the not-so-glory war the US waged on Vietnam territory. The war has ended for 46 years and Agent Orange disaster may, therefore, be easily forgotten. However, more than anyone else, we must not forget or deny the fact that Agent Orange has been destroying thousands of innocent lives. Therefore, Nga’s case serves as a reminder to humanity of the terrible crimes ever happened and never ended, because millions of Vietnamese people are still suffering from the consequences of the cruelty and indifference. At the same time, it is also a warning to us that disaster can still happen if people are ignorant, if the struggle loses momentum and if we compromise.
The journey to find justice for victims of Agent Orange will certainly still be difficult and we need more people like Nga and her associates - compassionate lawyers, journalists, writers, who have shown their sympathy with the pain and impotence of the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. It is also a journey to arouse the voice of conscience and responsibility. That voice not only represents Vietnamese people but also needs the unanimity and support of individuals, organisations, nations and progressive humanity. Because the pain of Agent Orange that many Vietnamese people are suffering is a paradox, given the unreasonableness that “people sitting on the spraying planes are recognized as victims while the persons below who was sprayed with poison on his head, had to eat and drink poisonous food and water, were not recognized. This is an extremely serious violation of human rights!” (Former Vice President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Nguyen Thi Binh). At the same time, \"the pain of Vietnamese Agent Orange/dioxin victims is the common one of Vietnamese people and also of progressive humanity in the world\" (former President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Nguyen Minh Triet).
Stemming from that fact, Directive No. 43-CT/TW of the Secretariat on Strengthening the Party\'s leadership in dealing with the consequences of toxic chemicals used by the US during the war in Vietnam, has specified that it is necessary to strengthen propaganda and mobilization so that all classes of people in the country and overseas Vietnamese, international organisations and world countries deeply understand the disaster of toxic chemicals caused by America in the war in Vietnam, thereby, actively responding to movements and campaigns to help the victims and support their fight for justice.
Inspiring beautiful life
At the macro level, the fight for justice for the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange requires the joint effort of the community. At the micro level, the existence and daily efforts of each victim will also add further support for this long and challenging battle. Therefore, more than ever, they need supportive policies and social security. At the same time, the joint care of the whole society serves as a helping hand, saving the less fortunate lives. Currently, Thanh Hoa province has 14,905 war participants infected with Agent Orange and their children are benefiting from monthly subsidies. In addition to regular allowances, the province has also built gratitude funds at all levels and called on benefactors to actively help this disadvantaged group. But, in the end, all external factors are just aids. It is the energy and desire to pursue a better life that motivates them to rise up and escape from poverty and misery.
At his youth, the 17-year-old boy Le Xuan Khuong (Cat Tan commune, Nhu Xuan district, Thanh Hoa province) used his blood to write a volunteer application for the armed forces and he was assigned to the special forces unit of Division 304, 2nd Corps. He later fought at the Route 9- Khe Sanh front, then engaged in the Mau Than Spring Campaign (1968), the Southern Laos Campaign (1971), the Quang Tri Campaign (1972), and the historic Ho Chi Minh Campaign. It was during this time on fierce battlefields that he was infected with Agent Orange. However he was not aware of the problem until December 1986, when he got married and gave birth to 6 children of whom 3 were disabled. The disease, coupled with the hand to mouth, life seems to have beaten this war veteran. Not surrendering his fate, the old man and his wife kept working hard. From reclaiming, planting to digging ponds for fishing, they hardly let their hands free. But when he turned to coffee plantations, he failed, and lost all of his savings.
Ironically, at that time, his second daughter, who was attending the Central Ethnic Culture and Friendship Boarding School, suddenly fell ill and became paralyzed. He hastily sold most of his possessions, from the herd of buffaloes and goats to his house, and then borrowed more to treat his daughter. Sudden calamities, economic decline and toxic sequelae in the body have wreaked havoc on his health. Sharing with the family\'s difficulties, the Party Committee, the government, the Fatherland Front, local mass organizations and the Provincial Agent Orange/Dioxin Association built him a house of gratitude. Then, with a preferential loan, in 2004, Khuong built a complex farm which was the first one in Nhu Xuan district. Up to now, his farm has gone into stable operation, bringing about an average income of VND 250-300 million/year and creating regular jobs for 10-15 workers. Not only typical in doing economics, Khuong is also exemplary in new rural construction, when he spent his own money to open nearly 2 km of roads connecting his farm to the inter-village road.
Returning from the battlefield of Kong Tum after 12 years of fighting and working (from 1969 to 1981), Mr. Bui Thief Thus (Thanh Long commune, Thatch Thanh district) married his girlfriend from the same hometown. But the young couple\'s desire to build a happy home was gradually eroded, when their 9 children, in turn, were born unhealthy. The evil sequelae of Agent Orange have taken away their 4 children; the 5 remaining are living with deformities and disabilities. Despite the severe shock, he still had to work hard to raise and treat his children. In early 1990, when the State implemented the bidding policy of forest land, Thus rented 10.8 hectares to grow acacia and chukrasia tabularis. Unfortunately, due to his inexperience and bad weather, he failed. After that, thanks to technical guidance from the District’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, plus his diligence and hard work, his acacia and chukrasia tabularis plantation grew well. Under the trees, he raised poultry for food, bees for honey, and planted grass for his breeding cows. Since then, his life has gradually been improved and prospered.
|Thanks to his efforts and hard work, the life of AO victim Bui Thiet Thuc (Thanh Long commune, Thach Thanh district, Thanh Hoa province) has been increasingly improved.
If we leave ourselves to the mercy of fate, then our lives are no different from the water hyacinth. And if we consider our life as a book written by our own, then pain or happiness, fight or surrender all depend on our choice and each person\'s way of life. Khuong, Thuc and dozens and hundreds of victims of Agent Orange did have many days living in physical and mental pain. Yet, they have withstood and overcome their adversities to give us beautiful lifestyle and a philosophy that there is no desperate situation, only people are desperate of the situation!./.