July 22, 2008
Originally uploaded by diligam_te.
Jk’s photographs of Pulau Bidong from 1985
flickr group: Pulau Bidong photo pool
What was Consolacion’s position in Bidong? How did you know her? I’m just curious.
I’ve been finding lots of pictures on flickr and nice stories on www.pulaubidong.org
Chào Anh Dúc,
Consolacion was ex-pat teacher (“adviser”) in the Zone B French school. I arrived on Bidong early in 1985 and knew her there until she was replaced by Odile Gilliot. Consolacion then, as far as I know, returned to France. Odile Gilliot replaced Consolacion at the end of her time on Bidong. Unhappily, Odile died (brain tumour) some years ago.
I worked mainly in the Single Young Men’s programme and also did some work in the church. I stayed on Bidong only one year (one of the best of my life, although for many Vietnamese, it was probably one of their worst).
Whilst on Bidong, I kept a diary just about every day and have been working on it occasionally to get it into more publishable form. I have a friend who has offered to do some editorial work on it, but have no idea about the publishing side of things. I daresay that before any possible publication, I would need to change a few names to preserve anonymity. Occasionally I read some of it, and find it recreates the people and places quite vividly for me.
If you look at my pictures on flickr, you will find a few of “Au Co” house (named after a mythical Vietnamese figure); this was the group of unaccompanied minors. It was in Zone F, and had the zone television on its wall. I presume you were among the “unaccompanied minors”.
Many good and generous people responded to the plight of the Vietnamese people in those days, and generally people moved through Bidong quite quickly. In my time, there were some who had been on Bidong for years; then, when Bidong was closed, I think some people were repatriated to Viet Nam. During my time, also, there was one elderly man who wanted to be repatriated. I think his boat (and he) were taken by a group leaving Viet Nam. It seemed a simple thing, to go back home, but it seemed very complicated for the UNHCR people organising it. -JK/diligam_te