#1 Thanh Chuong Ly, Vietnamese Boat Person, Sopley Refugee Camp, Hampshire, UK, March 1980
#2 The Wedding of Vinh Ly’s Sister
#3 Vinh Ly as a Boy, Standing Next to his Father
#4 Four Generations of the Ly family
Thirty-six years after taking the first photograph, I am contacted by Thanh Chuong Ly’s son, Vinh Ly. He e-mails:
`Thanks for the beautiful picture of my dad. It make me cry in a good way.
My youngest sister (The little girl just behind my dad in the photo and me on the very left of the photo. This photo taken in 1991/2 I think )
She happened to do some research on Vietnamese refugee for her son, and come across this picture this morning.
We was surprise and happy as we never seen this photo before, and we don’t have many photo of him when he young or of the family while we was at the camp.
After the camp we all moved to London.
My dad, have a full and happy, but eventful life with my mum.
He have 10 kids. 8 girls and 2 sons, me being the second youngest. I’m now in my late 40s
[I am attaching] a picture […] of my sister wedding [#2, above].
My dad have an eventful life, been running around most of his life.
He born in China in a poor family, marry my mum at an early age.
They was force to move to Vietnam when the Japan invade. He run a small restaurant in Vietnam.
And then he was in the middle of the war with the US vs Vietnam,
And again with Vietnam vs China. Being Chinese we was force out of Vietnam and come to Hong Kong as part of Vietnamese boat people.
And it have been a struggle for him to run away from Vietnam with the 8 youngest (The 2 oldest stay behind as they married)
He have 10 kids with my mum while in Vietnam.
I now work and live in London, most of my sisters have their own restaurant/takeaway business in UK.
Sadly my dad have passed away over 10 years ago.
I just like to say thank for the beautiful picture of him and we was wondering if you happen to have any more picture of him or any of one of the family member.Thanks again for the photo. It bring back memories. I still remember his wool cap and the hifi in your photo.
Vinh e-mails again:
`Another photo (#3, above) just after we move to London. Me being the little boy on the left.’
`Dear Vinh, How wonderful! I am so pleased that you liked my portrait of your late father.
Thank you also for the additional photographs you have attached and the short account of your father’s life.
Together with my own photograph, these tell the story of one family caught up in significant events of Chinese, Vietnamese, and British history. Unfortunately, I have no other photographs of your father. I wish I did, especially when I learn that he sadly passed away some time ago. He certainly lived an eventful life worth remembering. The day I took the photograph, I was accompanying Mrs Eleanor Carlson, who was researching the nutritional needs of the newly arrived Vietnamese refugees. I only met your father briefly. If I remember correctly, we could only communicate by signs since he did not speak English then and I do not speak Chinese or Vietnamese. The account you give of your family’s story, together with your photographs and mine tell an important story worth preserving for future generations. I wonder if I might ask your permission to add your account and photographs to my photograph online, since your contributions complete the story of my picture. I would also like to include your father’s name in the title of my photograph, if you would be kind enough to tell me what it is. With very best wishes and appreciation.
Vinh generously agrees in the following e-mail and adds another photograph (#4):
My dad full name is : Thanh Chuong Ly.
This is the Ly family photo (#4) taken about 2 years ago (four generation in the photo) when one of his grandchildren got marry.
My mum is the old lady in the middle she now 88 years old, sadly my dad is not there. I’m the one carry my new born daughter, and my little sister who found your photo standing behind me next to the baby.