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Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Refugees fleeing the fighting. Phan Thiet, Vietnam,1968

An inevitable sight in Vietnam was that of the local population fleeing the fighting. In the countryside it was relatively simple for a peasant to rebuild his house. In a town not so easy.

Because of the years of war the towns were in any case overcrowded. The people were generally very poor and very few had bank accounts. It was very surprising when first arriving in the country to see how the poor immediately changed money into something portable of value. A twenty four carat gold bracelet had far more meaning to a peasant than an account in a bank.

They were though a very long suffering people and took their hardship with a certain stoic resignation. It was difficult though to understand sometimes the values that they attached to certain things and on reflection I feel that one became far too hardened to suffering. An instinct of survival of course is to seperate oneself from one's surroundings and to look on events with a certain detachment. Otherwise in any case one would crack up.

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