vintage refugee photo
This photo was taken of us for a newpaper in New Zealand. I'm sitting on my grandmother's lap due having a badly swollen foot from a bee sting.

Once, We Were Refugees

Finally, I get around to doing something which I wanted to do years ago – to scan some really old photos and preserve them. Boy, did the memories flood back. These photos take me back to our humble beginnings and every time I look at them, it makes me appreciate my life that much more. There aren’t that many photos, but what I have are very special. I want to share them with you.

(The top photo was taken of us for a newpaper in New Zealand. I’m sitting on my grandmother’s lap due having a badly swollen foot from a bee sting.)

The Price of Freedom

These images remind me of the sacrifices which my parents made so that we may live in freedom. They risked their lives and the prospect of never seeing each other or their children again, in the effort to gain us the better life that we live today. With only a plastic bag (filled with the bare necessities) as a floatation aid, they swam in the darkness across the Mekong river to Thailand, fleeing from the Pathet Laos regime. Dad had done the dash a week before my mother gained the courage to do the same. Not knowing where dad would be, mum swam across with her sister to join him. Luckily the Thai authorities processed all asylum seekers in the same place, so my parents found each other there.

It wasn’t until six or seven months later that my parents were able to borrow money from my mother’s brother (who was already in New Zealand) to pay someone to collect us and take us to them. I can only imagine the heartache they went through and the longing they would have felt for their children. Along with my grandmother and teenage aunt, my brother and I were rowed across on a small dinghy in the middle of the night. My parents courage, hope and determination saw us re-united and living the amazing life that we are living right now. That’s why we try to make every day special and live life to the fullest, to make my parents efforts and sacrifices worthwhile.

Finally re-united in Thailand after half a year of separation.

Contrasting life

My life, which I live now, is such a stark contrast from my past. We do live a rather privileged one. We travel often, attend glamorous events, shop when we like and eat out when we please. We have jobs which we love doing. Our children are never in need of anything. It’s a challenge to keep them grounded, especially when we can supply so much for them. It’s nice that they don’t have to experience what we did when we lived in poverty. They do spend a lot of time with their grandparents and other people from the Laos community, which gives them a bit of grounding and education about their culture. My family live very simply. Time spent together is very important.

There are increasing conversations with my teenage daughter about my past and the hardships which my parents went through. I’ve even suggested that one day we will take her to a third world country to do charity work. Surprisingly, she’s all for it! As for the little boy, he’ll be happy to go if he can take a stack of Lego with him. We’d like to give back something to the world.

proud house owner
Proud owners of our first home in Auckland, New Zealand. Our cousins joined in for this photo (I’m on the right).
vintage photo flashback
We didn’t have much but we were happy. Bottom right photo is of two cousins (Daravone and Daravanh) while being processed in a Thailand refugee holding facility, before joining us in New Zealand.
asian kids
A couple of our childhood friends who were also refugees. Saysimone and Phet with my brother and cousin Peter. This photo has been through some wear and tear!


Life wasn’t always glamorous

This post is a gift to myself, my family and my childhood friends. It’s nice to have some of these images online for them all to view. For all the followers of our blog, thanks for taking the time to drop by to have a look. Life wasn’t always glamorous for this fabulous femme. I’m so appreciative of the life which I live. The aim of this blog is to inspire as many people as we can to make the most of themselves.

Fabulous Femme would like to support some who are not as fortunate as we are. We’d like to help people who are still living in poverty, in countries like the one we came from. They may also be those who have come from those places and are needing a bit of a helping hand to settle in. We are where we are due to the generosity and care of those who were more fortunate than we were. There’ll be a blog posts soon on who we will be supporting. Please spare a thought for these people and show them some compassion.

kids lined up by size
The cousins line-up. Peter, Boun (my brother), Penny, me, Bobby.
A polaroid snap of us, taken by a kind stranger while we were in the refugee processing centre in Auckland, New Zealand.


Don’t forget to read this little story:  A Time To Give.