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Agent Orange

VIETNAM | Saturday, 29 August 2009 | Views [609]

August 29th, 2009

 We’re leaving the clinic tomorrow for a pleasure cruise on Halong Bay, so I need to find my story today.

I started out by following various families go through the clinic experience. Trent thought the story would be more powerful if it was based on an individual that went through the clinic experience. The idea was to follow them from start to finish.

Not knowing who was going to go and the ailment that needed attention made it a little like the lottery. I followed two different families to their homes, interviewed them, only to find out that they had really bad colds. Not exactly TV material.

For the second time, I arrived at the clinic with my second family.

“Hey, can we just see why these other people are here?” I asked my interpreter. We began asking random people why they came to the clinic. There were lots of colds. That bug was really going around.

Finally we came across a young man and a woman that looked really tired. They were sitting on the floor, against a sheet of metal siding that was being used as a wall for the general store next door.

My interpreter asked the young lady a few questions and then looked surprised as she answered. He repeated something she said, which she confirmed.

“So, what are they here for?” I asked.

“They’re blind,” he said quietly. “They’re brother and sister, both affected by Agent Orange.”

Agent Orange. I’d been hoping to get a story related to Agent Orange, but became discouraged after I’d been told its residues were only present along the old border between The North and The South.
Agent Orange is the chemical that the United States sprayed over the jungles of Vietnam, in order to root out the Northern Vietnamese in hiding. What the US didn’t know, was that after the Vietnam War, the poisonous chemical would infiltrate the water, soil, and eventually the bloodstream of hundreds of thousands of innocent Vietnamese, causing generations of genetic mutation.

This was my story. It was interesting, something I cared about, and my subject was right in front of me. I wasn’t going to let these siblings out of my site. So I didn’t.

In other news, I drove a moped/motorcycle in Vietnam today. It was only for five minutes, but still. I drove it.

Trent rented the motorcycle in order to grab a few beauty shots of the area. He thought it would be better than walking from place to place and he was absolutely right.

Tags: agent orange, genetic mutation, motorcycle, story, vietnam war

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