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My-Linh Le

She has been in the U.S. for four years. She lives with her parents and two older sisters. Her parents wanted to come to the U.S. because they wanted their children to get an education and they wanted to make more money.

The worst political event in South Vietnamese history happened on April 30, 1975 just four days after I was born. My father, along with many other officers of the South Vietnamese army, was forced into one of the re-education camps. The concentration camps were built along the entire length of Vietnam; the biggest prison in the world. During thirteen years of hard labor under the Wicker Policy of Communist cadres, my father and the other prisoners became walking human skeletons resembling the monkeys in the jungle and were difficult to distinguish from one another.

 At home, my mother had to work so hard in order to earn a little money for our daily meals. There were eight of us. I have three brothers and three sisters; the oldest only thirteen years old and the youngest, me, only a few weeks old. My sisters have told me that during that time my body was very thin because of under nourishment and I was covered with scabies. Almost everything we had was sold for rice. We had only a few dishes, some old clothes, and a few torn blankets. We lived day by day year by year that way. Sometimes we had nothing to eat. Sometimes we were able to eat unripe mangos or a young coconut. But often it seemed that the more we ate the more hungry we were.

 We prayed to God for help and our prayers were answered in February 1988 when my father was released. Then after three years, in April 1991, our family went to the U.S. on the political prisoner departure program. The first harvest of mine was a high school diploma from Los Altos High School in June 1994.