In 1981, I was working in Galang Refugee Camp in Indonesia. Mely Bonifacio, the UNHCR Representative invited some of us to sail with her to the Kuku Refugee Camp. We made the 20 hour trip from Tanjung Pinang on the Seasweep which was operated by World Vision.

The Kuku Camp was located in the Indonesian Anambas Islands east of Malaysia. If I remember correctly, there were 2000 Vietnamese refugees in the camp at the time. We took them supplies, and carried 200 people with us back to Galang.

Kuku was both beautiful and brutal. There was ongoing abuse by the Indonesian military, and just a month before our visit a refugee boat had sunk within sight of the camp drowning everyone on board.

We were only on Kuku for several hours, and I took these photos then.

That night on the Seasweep, everyone was invited down into the steamy hold for a "Special Program". There was some guitar music and singing. Then a World Vision representative using a Vietnamese interpreter, spoke to the assembled refugees. He told them that they would never see Vietnam again and described to them how difficult, lonely, isolated, and hopeless their lives in their new countries would be. He explained that their only hope was to accept Jesus as their personal savior. He was greeted by stunned silence. Many people cried, and some of us walked out.

Những hình ảnh trong blog này do ông Gaylord Barr chụp. Ông Gaylord là người thầy khả kính của rất nhiều dân tị nạn. Ông đã rời Mỹ quốc để đến giúp người tị nạn tại Galang từ 1980 đến 1982.
Chú thích tiếng Anh do ông Gaylord viết, được tạm dịch qua tiếng Việt


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Kuku refugee camp - The People

People stayed in Kuku for only a short time. Everyone would be moved to Galang. But Kuku wasn't necessarily the first stop for many of the people. Indonesians living on other island in the Anambas Islands had been provided with radios by the UNHCR. If a boat landed on one of the other islands...authorities would eventually be notified (hopefully), and the people would me moved to Kuku...and then on to Galang.


Thai left Galang before the other cousins. And unlike the others, he had been accepted for resettlement in Australia. The day he left was heartbreaking for everyone, especially the cousins he had shared so much with.


I met these 4 cousins... travelling without their parents... at Kuku. A month later, Khuong (in white) found me at school in Galang. He and his cousins had just arrived.

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