- Israël-Territoires Disputés
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The government’s decision to assist in the adoption of Haitian orphans struck a chord with brothers Negoin, who fled from war-town Vietnam in 1977 as children and found refuge in Israel. Following the murder of their uncle, nine-year-old Negoin Bah Xuan and 16-year-old Negoin Ho were put on a ship by their parents who feared for their lives and escaped the Asian country, which became unsafe in the face of the communist regime’s persecution.
« There were 66 of us on board. We escaped to the unknown, » Bah Xuan, now 41, told Ynet. While sailing they came across an Israeli ZIM ship whose sailors provided the refugees with food and water. « At first we weren’t allowed on board. After contact was made with then Prime Minister Menachem Begin, he decided as a gesture to grant us political asylum. »
Several hours later the brothers were on a plane on their way to Israel where they received an absorption basket, recognition as olim and eventually Israeli citizenship. Naturally their assimilation in Israel was not without its problems. « It wasn’t easy. We were without our parents and didn’t speak the language, » Ho said.
The young brother soon found a loving home with a family from Tel Aviv. Ho, now 48, ended up in a boarding school in the north. Later he studied in Tel Aviv and volunteered for Air Force service. « I felt a need to belong like everyone else, » he said.
The two estimated that the Haitian orphans who would arrive in Israel will face similar problems to their own. « They will have difficulties with the language, assimilation and communication – but it’s a humane and positive step. »
Only 15 years after they left their homeland and following mitigation in the Vietnamese authorities’ policy, the two managed to contact their parents, who in the meantime had served hard labor for child smuggling.
The brothers currently reside in Bat Yam and work as cooks.
They’re saving the Haitian children’s lives, just as they did for us, » Bah Xuan said. « If it hadn’t happened, who knows where we would be today. » Vietnamese Ambassador to Israel Dinh Xuan Luu, said that despite the similar aspects of the two cases, the difference in historical circumstances is considerbale.
« The Vietnamese children were post-war refugees, while in Haiti a natural disaster has caused many kids to become orphans. I personally think there is no connection between the cases and no room for comparison. »
Par Ynet reporter