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Cuc Lam, Vietnamese Migrant & Councillor, 1978
Image: Cuc Lam's clothing in Suitcase
Source: Museum Victoria
Cuc Lam escaped from Vietnam on 19 May 1978 with her husband Huu Minh. Cuc was born in 1952 and grew up in Can Tho in the Mekong Delta with four brothers and sisters. She was raised by her older brother and sister as her father died when she was just 15 days old, and her mother when she was 13. When Cuc left Vietnam, she had to leave her sister (Hien Thi Tran), her sister's husband (Hai Van Tran) and their two children behind, as they couldn't raise the money for the journey. Her sister attempted to come six months later with her children but the voyage failed, her children drowned and she was returned to Vietnam and put in jail. She attempted to come to Australia at various other times but never made it. Cuc still carries much grief, guilt and regret for leaving her sister behind.
Cuc and her husband escaped from Vietnam in a river boat, used for transporting fruit and vegetables, it was picked up in international waters by a Malaysian ship eight days after their escape. The women and children were taken on board the Malaysian ship, while the men were towed behind, causing Cuc much fear for her husband's life. They spent five weeks in the Pulau Tengah refugee camp in Malaysia, during this time they were taken for health checks in Kuala Lumpa and Cuc worked for the UN High Commission teaching English and as a translator. They left for Australia on 16 July 1978.
When they arrived in Australia Cuc and Huu Minh went to Midway Hostel in Maribyrnong. They stayed at the Hostel until January 1979, when Cuc had her first baby, and they were asked to leave. They then moved to the housing commission flats in Kensington.
Over the years, Cuc has studied, got her BA, worked at local kindergartens and Catholic schools as a new arrivals teacher and had her second child in November 1980 and a third in 1988. Her husband studied, worked as a file clerk at St Vincents Hospital, did further study and is now a practising chiropractor. Cuc now works at Centrelink as a Multicultural Liaison Officer in Footscray and Newport, and became a Maribyrnong councillor in 2000. Throughout her time in Australia, she has continued to support her family back in Vietnam.
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Qantas boarding pass for Cuc Lam (Tran Thi Cuc) for her flight from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne, on the 14th July 1978. Cuc and her husband escaped from Vietnam in May 1978. They spent ti ...From: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Images: 3