Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Second Chances

Posted on behalf of Vong Hamilton, proofreader for Children International.

I don’t remember much of anything of that time or place as I was only 3. However, one scene stays in my mind and I recall it often – not sure if it is a real memory or a byproduct of storytelling.

But I am leaving a village through a thick cloud of dust…I drag along behind my parents and brothers as part of a large migration out of a refugee camp. Lining the road are grass huts with people everywhere; some clothed, others naked – exiled by the Vietnam War.

Despite the excitement of those hustling to leave, melancholy saturates the air and settles heavily on the shoulders of those left behind. I look back and see an elderly man sitting on the ground with a haunting look on his face, sadness and hopelessness emanating from the black beads of his eyes. And I suddenly feel overwhelmed with sorrow because I know his life will probably end in the loneliness of the camp...his joy taken from him to accept, in his last days, grief that only a refugee can experience.

And I think about where I am today and how fortunate I am for my parents’ love, sacrifice and courage. Not yet 30 with four kids (and my mother pregnant!), they were stripped of the only home they’d known and ushered into a foreign land with a different culture and a mammoth language barrier.

But they lived one day at a time, looking to the future, yet also honoring the past, and slowly acquired new dreams. They were lucky enough to get a second chance. And today, it is because of that second chance, for which I am appreciative every day, that I could give something back to the world by playing a part, albeit minor, in bringing someone else hope.

The children and their families from our sponsorship program epitomize the strength, determination and hopefulness exhibited by my parents and other survivors (from any war in history) who try to make each day count.

I believe in the work of Children International and the hope it brings to the children and families around the world who didn’t choose to live a life of poverty but are all holding out for that second chance. And with the continuous help of our devoted supporters, we all can contribute to helping give someone a second chance at life.


Alice said...

Thank you for your story. It was very heartfelt and I am very happy to hear about how your family grew from that war and made a good life for yourselves. I am glad that you work for CI and how you are helping the sponsors as you are helping our children.

Anonymous said...

I also thank you for your thoughtful story Vong. It brought tears to my eyes. It really is something to imagine the courage and strength of your parents to not give up despite great odds and to move to another country in order to give their children a better life. Please tell your parents that they are truly inspiring and a good example to parents everywhere!