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Saturday, 18 August 2007

Another face from Saigon. Memories of Vietnam

The Directrice of the school was a Mrs Contento. Married to an American she was of Scots/Irish origin and had taken her degree at the University of Edinburgh. A missionary of the old school she had spent the early part of her life in China before being driven out by the communists.

After ten years in India she had arrived in Vietnam where she and her husband ran a protestant mission in Cholon. I can't in fact ever remember meeting any protestant Vietnamese. There were over a million catholics in the south, many refugees from the north. Most were of course buddhists. Her house was a large sprawling affair full of books and noisy Chinese students. I doubt very much that she approved of me. I was far too fond of women for her Scots puritan nature. A hard woman she didn't approve of people being absent through minor sickness.

I lost all track of her after the fall of Saigon, except a week or two after the communists moved in I read an account of a journalist who had come across an old British woman who had refused to be parted from her books. I imagine it was her. She hated the idea of losing them. Then a few months ago I typed in her name on internet and found a long entry referring to the good works of her husband who had died in the Phillipines in about 1995. I found out also that she had died there in 1985. So she had got out and carried on her work elsewhere in the Far East. I know she had always been afraid of being retired back in the UK or something.

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