BOAT PEOPLE – COURAGE AND NEW BEGINNINGS

Mai_NguyenWhat is greatness? You might better understand if we first describe what it is not. It is not fame; it is not a position of power; it is not having one’s name written in a bestseller or on a popular website. Indeed, Mai Nguyen and her family were none of these either. The greatness they inspired is always punctuated by modesty and sacrifice. This is another tremendous personal success story.

All immigrants have memorable stories. Some are more dramatic than others. Some tell their story easily. Others, you have to draw it. Boat People refers to the harrowing journeys made by thousands of people who fled after the fall of Saigon.

In 1975, a family consisting of parents, their three children and a grandmother escaped from Vietnam.  They left everything behind including their relatives and their home, in a merchant ship under the fire of soldiers who brandished semiautomatic weapons. They prayed they would evade North Vietnam’s coastal patrols and slip out to sea.

With luck on their side, they made it over to the island of Guam and waited many weeks for someone to sponsor them in Canada. Months passed and good news finally came to the family. At the time, they only spoke Vietnamese, with no knowledge of French or English. They obviously made a tremendous personal sacrifice when they left Vietnam, with a new challenge ahead of adapting to a new country and finding a way to earn a living.

After struggling to find a more stable job, Mrs. Thi Mui Ngo joined Rideau after being referred by a friend and ended up working with us for 21 years in our manufacturing department.  Mr. Van Ngu Ngo, who was a ship’s captain in Vietnam, found the courage to go back to school in order to obtain the certification he needed to head a merchant ship in Canada. He worked as captain for almost 15 years in Montreal and when he retired, he joined his wife and worked at Rideau for about 5 years.

Mai Nguyen, one of their daughters, graduated from the University of Quebec in Montreal in Finance. She started as a intern in Rideau’s accounting department in 1988.  Over the years, Mai’s determination, which she most probably got from her parents, combined with her talent, allowed her to work her way up in Rideau. Today, Rideau’s Vice President of Continuous Improvement and Training.

Thirty-six years ago, the Nguyen family was literally struggling to survive. They had lost everything but they still had the hope and determination to start again. Mai and her family have showed great courage and perseverance to begin a new life in Canada. Her family has found peace and security; there will be no more fighting or soldiers coming for them in the night.

Working with refugee families is an opportunity to build one little bridge to another country. We might never visit these nations, but through our efforts to help these families, we have learned so much about their lives and culture. In the end, despite our many differences, we are all human beings.

Working with refugee families is an opportunity to build one little bridge to another country. We might never visit these nations, but through our efforts to help these families, we have learned so much about their lives and culture. In the end, despite our many differences, we are all human beings.

We all seek the same things in life – a safe, loving and happy life for our children and ourselves. The Nguyen family embraced all of these challenges with courage and strength.  They have earned our deepest respect!

Great people inspire greatness. It is only the greatness of humble service that inspires generation after generation!

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