Former Vietnamese refugee looking for her Norwegian rescuers


Foto: Mark Cheong, Straits Times

At an age of four, Australian-Vietnamese Yen Siow fled from South Vietnam in a crowded boat over the South China Sea due to the invasion from communist-ruled North Vietnam in 1975.

For several days, 80 people sailed around on a boat built for 10. They quickly ran out of food, water and hope. Several larger ships passed them but no one seemed interested in helping – until one day, a Norwegian tanker came across the desperate refugees. The Norwegians welcomed the refugees on board and sailed them to Singapore where most of them were given shelter at Hawkins Road Refugee Camp in Sembawang.

Two weeks ago Yen Siow, who is now 39 years old, decided to track down the men who rescued her many years ago and show them gratitude.

With the help of Facebook groups, Yen Siow managed to find two of the Norwegian men who was aboard the tanker that saved her that day.

“We were all overwhelmed with so much joy and excitement when we first connected,” says Yen Siow. “I really want to meet these people and say, you did the most awesome thing. You stopped in the midst of your travels to help strangers… And today, I’m alive. And my family’s alive. My children are alive. And we are back in Singapore.”

Yen Siow has been conducting several educational workshops at pro-bono shelters for the past year. “One person’s actions have changed the course of someone’s life for eternity”, she says.


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