Memories of the year 2000 are still vividly entrenched with people of Hoa Duan Village in Phu Vang District in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, who relive the devastating flood that swept away houses leaving hundreds homeless and killing 14 people, including 12 members of one single family alone.
The year 2000, 12 years ago, was also the ‘Year of the Dragon’.
|The entrance gate into ‘Dragon Village’|
Tran Van Thu, the sole survivor today of the family that lost 12 of its members in the storm, says he fears the flood season the most in his life as it brings back painful memories of his children, wife, parents and relatives. So broken was he after the loss, that people who knew him thought that he would never get over the tragedy.
But life goes on and in course of time he met a woman who too was distressed at the prospect of looking after her two children single-handedly after her husband died of a chronic ailment. She sympathized with Thu and soon they decided to live together and look after each other.
Soon after the devastation, 12 years ago, military forces set up a resettlement camp for the homeless. Former Party General Secretary Le Kha Phieu, on a mission tour of the storm hit region renamed the village as ‘Dragon Village’, to encourage people in the village to rise from their loss to the towering heights of a dragon.
Village chief Ha Thanh Dieu, said the former party general secretary has since regularly sent Tet gifts to villagers for the past 11 years. In 2011 he sent a peach blossom to every resident in the village.
This year the village people are preparing for Tet Lunar New Year earlier than previous years as this year is special for them, being the ‘Year of the Dragon’.
They first plan to organize a commemorative get-together to honor the victims of the 2000 storm. They will then make “Banh Chung” or stuffed sticky rice cakes as Vietnamese believe that making "Banh Chung" is an ideal form of worship of ancestors and the homeland. The cakes will then be distributed to other households in the village.
They will also make “Banh Tet” or banana stuffed cylindrical sticky rice cake, to express their love and respect for the former party general secretary who renamed the village.
Tran Van Thu shares every Tet with residents of the ‘Dragon Village’ wishing he had the opportunity to go north to personally greet Mr. Phieu just once. Not just Thu, but all the villagers hold his advise dear, to live in harmony and protect each other in times of distress.