Soon after clearing his wife’s debt, the father had to get his daughters adopted into two different families…
Mr. Le Dinh Keo (born in 1924, now deceased) spent time working on cargo ships in Sai Gon before he started his own family, which included daughters Le Thi Bong and Le Thi Nu.
His wife one day incurred a huge debt and took the whole family to a temporary accommodation in the market as putting their house on sale was the only way to get the debt paid off.
Mrs. Le Thi Nu
Not long after marriage, Keo’s wife left. He and his daughters lived a vagabond existence, struggling just to keep their heads above water.
In 1966, days of deliberation went by, Mr. Keo decided to put his daughters Le Thi Bong (13 years old), Le Thi Nu (5 years old) up for adoption to two families in District 4.
Mrs. Phan Thi Ngoc (nearly 90 years old, living in Canada) as a loving old woman, adopted Le Thi Nu. “I wanted to take them both, but I didn’t have the capability.”
It was imprinted on Nu’s mind the first time she got sent home for a visit to her birth father. “I gave him some money from my piggy bank but he refused to take it and instead gifted me a roast duck and some bread before I got back to my foster parents’ home, saying ‘enjoy them my daughter, there will be no next time visit’,” Mrs. Nu recalled with tears streaming down her cheeks.
Mrs . Le Thi Bong
Those lengthy 53 years
Mr. Keo departed in 1968. The sisters got a chance to mourn their father at his funeral after completely losing touch.
In the following years, Mrs. Bong worked different jobs as a banana trader at the pier and a chef at restaurants in District 4, thinking that her younger sister had settled down in America leading a full life with good education. Mrs. Bong married at 20 and still lives in the Xom Chieu market area, district 4.
As for Mrs. Nu, in 1975, she together with her adoptive parents moved from District 4 to Ba Diem commune in Hoc Mon district in Saigon. She led a rather strenuous life providing support to her parents in the fields. They in 1990 moved to Canada without Nu. She soon married a carpenter in Tinh Bien district, Tay Ninh Province and gave birth to seven children. She stayed partnerless and raised them all after her husband’s death, unfortunately.
Mrs. Le Thi Nu holding a photo of her birth father.
Nu lived with a longing to reconnect with her older sister but her search for Mrs. Bong was not feasible due to unstable living location and having no aid.
“I miss her, every night, for decades. I have never forgotten the visit when I was seven and she was 15. I took her to the market and her utterance upon seeing anything there was ‘do you want it? Take it, take it, I’ll pay’ despite me repeatedly shaking my head.”
Mrs. Nu’s son also started his search for his aunt whenever he heard someone with similar name or age, but was always left disappointed.
A TV show named ‘As if we were never apart’ (Nhu chua he co cuoc chia ly) after receiving two matching letters about finding relatives contacted two of the senders for a reunification on the program. There was initially some trouble in contacting Mrs. Bong due to the change in her address but it finally went smoothly.
Moment of rejoice
Ms. Bong shared that over the past few decades, she took the onerous journey to look for her lost sister, which was made even harder due to her illiteracy. She had to reach out for help to post a newsletter for the search of Mrs. Nu.
The second they saw each other again, no one could refrain from shedding tears. With hands held, embraces locked, they filled in the other with stories missed, recollecting those days, with that pure joy of being able to stay close to your flesh and blood.
With an orchestra spread out across the entire parterre, audiences limited to the balconies, and no breaks but plenty of disinfectant, the Sofia Opera is one of the few music venues still hosting live performances in Europe.
Across the continent, a third wave of COVID-19 infections is keeping opera houses and other cultural venues closed — loud singing poses a particular risk as the virus spreads through droplets — but in Bulgaria, classical music plays on, from “Tosca” to “La Traviata”.
“I am hungry for music. And the risk, why think about it? It’s not riskier here than in the supermarket or the subway,” says 81-year-old Petya Petkova, who attended Verdi’s “La Traviata” with her daughter last week.
Despite the disinfectant, social-distancing and staff taking people’s temperature, a festive spirit reigns at the historic opera house in the Bulgarian capital, a stark contrast to its silenced counterparts in Paris, Vienna or Milan.
Bulgaria first eased pandemic restrictions in June and allowed operas, concert halls and cinemas to reopen at 30 percent capacity, leading the Sofia Opera to arrange plastic and fabric flower bouquets as placeholders on the majority of the crimson plush seats.
“We perform in front of 250 spectators, but it’s better than not playing or performing,” Sofia Opera director Plamen Kartaloff says.
Even as Europe struggles with a third wave of infections, in part due to a number of mutations that spread more easily, Kartaloff expects the opera to remain open.
Tragedy has touched the operatic community, and not just on stage: In November, Bulgarian tenor Kamen Chanev died of COVID-19, three weeks after he debuted Otello in the central Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora.
Remembering him, soprano Stanislava Momekova, 36, becomes serious.
“That’s the risk of this profession — it holds us like a drug, it’s stronger than fear,” Momekova says.
For American conductor Evan-Alexis Christ, who saw his performances in Germany cancelled, bringing “La Traviata” to the stage feels rewarding, despite a number of “acoustic challenges”.
From the pit, the orchestra had to move to the parterre, where musicians now sit far apart from one another. The singers on stage are even farther away.
“We are acoustically louder for the audience than normal so the orchestra has to play very quietly and listen even more to the singers,” Christ says.
“But overall I think everyone is very happy, also the musicians and the singers who are able to perform,” he adds, praising the discipline of the musicians, who, with the exception of singers and tube instruments, perform with face masks on.
Luring younger audiences
To Christ, the opera in Sofia and in Madrid, which has also kept its doors open, are proof that it’s still possible to play for a live audience.
“My feeling is that people are incredibly hungry, they want to hear music,” Christ says, adding that he hopes “to make a difference” for the 250 people in the audience that night.
Thanks to Kartaloff’s ingenuity, the Sofia Opera has found a number of ways to perform amid the pandemic: “Swan Lake” was staged on the pontoon of a lake near Sofia, while other operas reverberated through an old Roman fortress.
Some musical theatre performances were limited to adults with children, a way to focus on the audience of the future, Kartaloff says.
As clubs and bars have mostly remained closed, Bulgaria’s opera halls have become more alluring to younger audiences, including students who put on their prom suits to see “La Traviata”.
“It’s a huge pleasure to have the chance to attend a nice event such as the opera,” 38-year-old Nikolay Onufriev, who’s only been to the opera once before, says.
“It’s a way to escape from the grey, everyday life that we have amid the coronavirus pandemic, and for me, this is something big.”
The Hanoitimes – The declaration is believed to be more effective only when having a transparent mechanism that is more trustworthy than the current process.
The Government Inspectorate of Vietnam has asked high-ranking officials to make assets declaration within March as part of efforts to curb corruption.
|Assets declaration is believed one of Vietnam’s tools against corruption. Source: Tien Phong|
State employees holding the post of deputy department and higher, police and army officers, candidates for the National Assembly and the People Council are subject to the assets declaration.
The declaration covers kinds of assets, flows of assets, and origin of assets. Results of the declaration would be public in the agencies they work for or at the bodies’ meetings.
Assets declaration is believed one of Vietnam’s tools to curb corruption among state cadres. Authorized agencies likely check randomly part of the assets to see if the declaration is trustworthy, according to Dr Dinh Van Minh, head of the Government Inspectorate’s Legal Department.
Francesco Checchi, a regional anti-corruption advisor of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in South East Asia and the Pacific, told Hanoitimes that Vietnam should build a mechanism that closely monitors the asset declaration among senior civil servants to make the country’s efforts against corruption more effective.
“A transparent mechanism will be an effective tool to make the declaration more trustworthy than the process at the present,” Francesco Checchi said.
A lack of specific analysis on conflict of interest together with unsubstantial assets declaration, and loose supervision challenges Vietnam’s anti-corruption process, he noted.
Francesco Checchi recommended that Vietnam should use different tools to fight corruption, especially encouraging the participation of the whole society.
Vietnam should facilitate and promote the participation of different sectors, mostly the private sector and the press in implementing the United Nations Convention against Corruption , mainly when it comes to the prevention and recovery of stolen assets, the advisor emphasized.
“Civil servants should be required to declare more items, namely loans and debts when building or buying homes, and make a report on the unclear additional income of opaque origin as well as accountability,” he noted.
The Hanoitimes – One third of provinces bordering with Cambodia have tightened entry procedures on people coming from this country.
Vietnam has toughened up control over unlawful immigration in the region bordering with Cambodia after people returning from the neighboring country found infected with Covid-19.
|Authorities in Dong Thap raise warning alert against Covid-19 following imported threat. Photo: VGP|
A number of southern provinces bordering with Cambodia like Dong Thap, An Giang, and Kien Giang have asked its border guards to keep vigilance on the movements in boundary areas after Dong Thap detected two cases between February 26 and 28.
The southern provinces are under threat of local transmission as Vietnamese nationals attempt to return their home country after the pandemic has broken out in Cambodia since February 20, according to Doan Tan Buu, deputy chairman of the Dong Thap People’s Committee.
It means that the region is in danger of imported coronavirus infections, leaving the localities under high alert and requiring them to closely follow the 5K (in Vietnamese) measures namely masking, disinfection, distance, no gathering, and health declaration.
Following the community transmission, local governments require all returnees from Cambodia to go to concentrated quarantine centers, make health declaration, and be available for testing.
After the local authorities confirmed two people who are Vietnamese nationals returning from Cambodia, Dong Thap has suspended entertainment activities and festivals and closed schools in some districts.
|An Giang’s forces boost border patrols. Photo: Tran Ngoc/Thanh Nien|
Meanwhile, An Giang has raised its coronavirus alert to the highest level, setting up 176 checkpoints and 11 mobile teams against Covid-19 and intensifying border patrols.
The Military Command in Kien Giang has toughened management in quarantine centers that accommodate Vietnamese people coming from Cambodia.
Given threat of imported Covid infection, different localities across Vietnam have laid a close eye on illegal immigrants. As a result, police in Nghe An, Danang, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Soc Trang, and Tra Vinh have arrested dozens of Chinese outlawed immigrants.
The Hanoitimes – Many businesses are in shortage of workforce after a long-break Tet holiday, as travel remains restricted between different localities.
A prolonged Covid-19 in a number of provinces and cities is putting local businesses under serious stress to avoid disruption of operations.
|A Covid-19 checkpoint at An Duong district, Hai Phong city. Source: Phapluatxahoi.vn|
The Private Economic Development Research Board (Board IV) revealed the information following its quick survey with 12 business associations from February 19-22.
In the survey, the majority of respondents said they forecast the Covid-19 pandemic to stay in long-term and have adjusted their operations to better cope with the situation.
However, businesses are facing some common problems, including shortage of workers after a long-break Tet holiday as travel remains restricted between different localities.
The Covid-19 pandemic also causes severe impacts on the transportation sector, in which many transport companies are operating at 20-30% of their capacity.
In recent days, movements of goods from and out of Hai Duong province, the country’s pandemic hotspot, to other localities have been stalled, impacting supply and production chains of various industrial parks.
This came at the fact that drivers from Hai Duong are not allowed to leave the province, while those from outside do not want to enter on fear of Covid-19, or some Covid-19 checkpoints stop drivers from Hai Duong to go through.
Strict anti-Covid-19 measures adopted by Hai Duong’s neighboring cities/provinces, especially in Hai Phong, have led to a stagnation of sale and distribution of farm produce from Hai Duong, including the transportation of such products to Hai Phong port for exports.
A report from Hai Duong Automobile Transportation Association noted in case hurdles for transportation of Hai Duong farm produce are not removed until early March 2021, the financial damage would be around VND400 billion (US$17.3 million).
“Transportation firms not allowed to enter Hai Phong are forced to seek different routes and thus it incurs additional costs, making it harder for enterprises as they are still struggling with Covid-19 impacts,” noted the Board IV.
Chairman of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform Truong Gia Binh said while social distancing and other safety measures have affected demand for farm produce, the lack of empty containers for exports remain the biggest concern for local traders.
“The business community seeks greater support from local authorities in working with shipping firms to resolve the situation and prevent unreasonable surge of container shipping rates,” Binh added.
To resolves these issues, Board IV cited recommendations from business associations calling for authorities in Hai Phong and Hai Duong to set up a “buffer zone” to apply safety measures for drivers, trucks and goods; change truck drivers upon entering certain province/city.
“Regarding the transportation of goods from Hai Duong to Hai Phong port, the government could set up a specialized transport corridor to avoid disruption of supply chains,” Board IV stated.
According to Board IV, the government could consider lowering transportation fees on expressways as transport firms are forced to change their routes.