Stuck in Hong Kong
Hieu Nguyen

Why did I have to move to Hong Kong to live in a detention camp while I was living happily and freely with my loved ones in Vietnam? When I was ten years old, my parents decided to cross the sea to Hong Kong . At that time, I did not know what Hong Kong was or why we had to move there. Nevertheless, as a young boy, I had no choice but to follow them.For one month, we floated on the sea on a rotten barge bearing the hungry and thirsty and confronting the raging waves. We finally arrived in Hong Kong . At first, the Hong Kong Government let us live on a small wild island which was isolated from the outside world. There we met many Vietnamese. Some had come just a few days before us and others had been there for some time. My family arranged for us to sleep in barracks that were near the seashore. On the island, the superintendents did not allow us to swim to the other nearby islands. However, some young men still tried to get to the nearest island, but they failed because of the long distance or the patrol boats that were always on alert. A few months later, they moved us to a new camp, which was called Man Yin Detention Center . There we slept in bunk beds lined up along two long sides of large huts, and each hut had a walkway between the two rows of beds. In the new camp, we were confined by a five-meter high barbed wire fence with sentry guard towers all around.

Those circumstances bored me a lot. One day I asked my parents why we had to leave our home country and come to this place. They said, “We came here for freedom and to have better life.” Truly, my young mind at that time did not understand what freedom meant. Besides, most of my time there I spent recalling the days I had been living joyfully in Vietnam with my teacher and classmates. There was a very big field nearby, where every afternoon I flew kites and played with other boys and girls. So “what is freedom?” I wondered. A few years passed, and we became more and more hopeless because not every developed country wanted to receive Vietnamese refugees. Therefore, the fear of being sent back to Vietnam seriously affected people’s lives. One day, my mother held a family meeting and told us two years after we arrived in Hong Kong that all of our properties in Vietnam had been sold to pay for our escape to Hong Kong. Actually, I was shocked when heard that, but I knew she wanted to let us know this before the situation got worse.

          After six years in Hong Kong, at last we were forced back to Vietnam. The price that we had paid was immeasurable, especially when the dream of going to a third country had vanished. However, the death of my father one year after we reached Hong Kong was the biggest loss of all.