Mr. Hung Hua


As interviewed by Ananya Venkateswaran, March, 19th, 2015

Mr. Hung Hua: in his own words

My parents, they came to Vietnam escaping the communist from China tried to come into Vietnam, they would always send them out. We were very young, so I was just starting to leave the country when I was sixteen. They had pretty much already decided they could not live with the communist. We tried for about three years, and then we finally escaped!

It was very difficult to immigrate. The government at that time pretty much controlled everything. To get a boat, you had to find a tank of water so you could go on the trip, you also had to find gasoline, finding food so you could at least survive a week or so of the trip. For this, you would usually have to go contact different people you trust. This is why we sometimes fell into a trap and got put in jail. Finally, we got it, a group of people including us had put a plan together to escape.

[The boat trip] is not fun. We could have been a lot more worried if we were older. I was sixteen at the time, so I did not think much of the risk. But, remembering back, we were living in a peak season so we had to pick that time so there would be less attention from the government, but it would be the worst time in the seas. We had to put a lot of brace in the cellar. We tried and tried to get to our destination but the captain of the ship was inexperienced. So, we were going around and around in circles, but the captain did not know he was making circles. We had….239 people on the boat, was a very small boat, about I would say 25 feet long, 6 feet wide. Like a fishing boat. There were people at the top and people in cabins, which is where they go……...fishing. While we were circling around and around in the rough ocean, people would get seasick and stuff. Finally, we found land, land was our saviour so we went upon it. So we went into land because of the storm; and we found out it was China! And luckily at that time China had a conflict in 1979, otherwise the Chinese would shoo the people back to where they came from. Luckily at 1979 they were at war with Vietnam…..they just gave us some water, they gave us some food but within 4 hours or so they wanted us to leave the country again. This was because if you were with someone for more than 4 hours, they would be responsible for your safety.

...They pushed us back into the ocean and it was up and down that everyone would get full meals and people were tired, so we just parked by the shore. Whenever there was a tide the boat was always pushed back into the water. By the time we were not close to land, it hit bottom for 3 waves of ocean to hit the boat. The Chinese felt very bad about that and actually that killed 13 of us. Luckily since we were close to land some of us were lucky enough to walk to land because we were on the side closer to land. However there were some of us who were on the other side who got pulled into the waves, and I guess 13 were killed because allegedly they were pulled to the oceans. We couldn’t find the bodies. The Chinese felt very bad. We landed in a nearby town, not in the center but they actually let us stay. The ship later came onto the fishing boat, it was about 4 times the size of ours. They had come to China, to ask for help. Chinese told them to take us to Hong Kong after that. After the trip to Hong Kong, which was a lot smoother, very fast, took us about another 8 or 10 hours to Hong Kong…...and that’s how we got to Hong Kong.

Immigration processes were very simple for us, we had an uncle and my older brothers he already, so they sponsored us when we were in a refugee camp and we applied for permanent residence here in the US so very easily; we got in. Within 4 months we got accepted to here…...and we still live here