My name “Quyen” was named after the story of a bird in Viet Nam, who missed its country so much that it would call out for home. My mom brought me into this world two days after she turned 20. She gifted me with this name because she missed her Viet Nam — heart aching to see the faces of her parents whom she had left when she fled as a refugee at the age of 16. Her family’s hope was for her freedom.
After the Vietnam War and the Secret War in Laos ended in 1975, communities and families all over Laos disintegrated. For those who chose to flee, the journey was perilous; the escape into the jungle, crossing the Mekong River, and reaching the refugee camps in Thailand often had to be done in secret. Those who stayed behind faced an equally perilous and uncertain future, and many were sent to re-education camps for siding with the US. Many families were separated forever.