Vietnam War refugee provides new home for Syrian refugees

Although we are a land of assimilation, it’s always a good idea to remember your roots.

In Edmonton, Nhung Tran-Davies remembers exactly what it was like fleeing Vietnam in 1979. She was five years old, born a year before the fall of Saigon.

Her mother was a widow who realized she couldn’t support her family of six children as a seamstress, so they escaped on a boat to the shores of Malaysia, spent months in a refugee camp, and eventually settled in Alberta thanks to a charitable organization.

“Not everyone wanted a family like that,” said Vicky Baril, part of the congregation at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Enoch, Alta., that sponsored the refugees. “They thought it would be a burden on society. Well, let me tell you, this family is no burden.”

“My mom made sure that we remained grateful to our sponsors. She made it a point for us to go visit the families every Christmas,” Tran-Davies tells the CBC in its story today.

She’s a doctor now, and one of Alberta’s 50 most influential people. And she remembers her roots.

So last fall she agreed to sponsor a Syrian family fleeing a civil war in their country and this month a family of eight arrived.

Tran-Davies gave the youngest child a doll because that’s what she remembered from the day she arrived in a new country; someone gave her a doll.