Vietnam | Family Ties
by Aaron Joel Santos
A little over a month ago I took a trip to Nam Dinh Province with a French national to document his journey back to his family’s hometown in northern Vietnam. It was his first time in the country, on a sort of path to learn more about his ancestors and how they came to meet in, and eventually flee, Vietnam. It was during the occupation of Indochina. Something about a French soldier and a dashing young girl from the countryside. Then a family split during wartime. And finally a return generations later.
Finding their home was a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack. There was no address. Just names and an old village. The village didn’t even exist anymore; it was called something else now. It had been swallowed up by the larger surrounding community. It was along the Red River, and after a few hours of driving and searching, we finally came upon the home of the family that had stayed behind, all those years ago. It was a great reunion. A family that always knew of the other half’s existence, but never more than old black & white photographs and a list of names without faces. It was nice to be there when some of those faces finally appeared.