Veterans Visit A Lu’o’i, Near Lao Border

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After leaving the town and museum of Khe Sanh, we traveled by bus for several hours through some wild and wonderful countryside to reach a small town in the district of A Lươi. During the war, Agent Orange/Dioxin was sprayed on this part of Viet Nam, effectively eliminating the tigers and bears and other indigenous wild life, as well as decimating the trees and undergrowth. The Earth, with her amazing ability to heal herself, is once again lush and green, though the wildlife has not returned. The harmful effects on Humans continues into the third and fourth generation of children born to those who were directly exposed. This is what we’ve come to witness – the seemingly, never-ending effect of the Viet Nam/American War.

I keep hearing, from the veterans on this trip, how, as young 18 and 20 year-old soldiers, they had felt duped, lied to, by their own government. After only weeks in “‘Nam,” they had realized that things were not as they had been led to believe, that the Vietnamese people were not the enemy.

An eco-friendly backpack

An eco-friendly backpack

Early Morning Market

Early Morning Market

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We’re a patient bunch, as we wait for our replacement bus.

Some are just smarter than others!

Some are just smarter than others!

Where spoken language fails, the camera always elicits smiles. This woman loved seeing her photos.

Where spoken language fails, the camera always elicits smiles. This woman loved seeing her photos.

This woman who came to simply stand beside us, as we waited for our bus to be repaired is "Bru," one of the 54 ethnic groups in Viet Nam.

This woman who came to simply stand beside us, as we waited for our bus to be repaired is “Bru,” one of the 54 ethnic groups in Viet Nam.

Even though she doesn't speak or understand English or Vietnamese, she's clearly delighted at Chuck's attempt to communicate with her.

Even though she doesn’t speak or understand English or Vietnamese,
she’s clearly delighted at Chuck’s attempt to communicate with her.

This woman is the mother of a mentally and physically incapacitated, adult daughter whose father was exposed to Agent Orange/Dioxin during the war. She works in a nearby medical clinic. The father also works. When we arrived at the house (late, due to the bus breakdown) the parents had left for their jobs. The door was locked, with the daughter inside. This was, apparently, their solution to a need to protect the totally vulnerable young woman while they are away, since there was certainly nothing in the house to steal. The neighbors did not have a key. As in Hue and other medium-sized cities and small towns and villages, there is a huge need for day-care for the disabled. Families struggle to care for those who can't care for themselves.

This woman is the mother of a mentally and physically incapacitated, adult daughter whose father was exposed to Agent Orange/Dioxin during the war. She works in a nearby medical clinic. The father also works. When we arrived at the house (late, due to the bus breakdown) the parents had left for their jobs. The door was locked, with the daughter inside. This was, apparently, their solution to a need to protect the totally vulnerable young woman while they are away, since there was certainly nothing in the house to steal. The neighbors did not have a key. As in Hue and other medium-sized cities and small towns and villages, there is a huge need for day-care for the disabled. Families struggle to care for those who can’t care for themselves.

The very simple home of a widow whose only income is approximately $37 per month, compensation from the government for the care of her severely disabled adult son, another victim of Agent Orange/Dioxin. She stays home to care for him. The house was built for her by the villagers. Note the flowers which have been planted beside the house.

The very simple home of a widow whose only income is approximately $37 per month, compensation from the government for the care of her severely disabled adult son, another victim of Agent Orange/Dioxin. She stays home to care for him. The house was built for her by the villagers. Note the flowers which have been planted beside the house.

The mother shares her worries concerning the future when she is no longer able to care for her son.

The mother shares her worries concerning the future when she is no longer able to care for her son.

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