Agent Orange Effect
It is the war that will not end. It is the war that continues to stalk and claim its victims decades after the last shots were fired (2). The use of Agent Orange still has an effect on the citizens of Vietnam today. It has poisoned their food and creating health concerns. This chemical has been reported to cause serious skin diseases as well as a vast variety of cancers in the lungs, larynx, and prostate. Children in areas exposed to Agent Orange, or have parents who were exposed to agent orange during the war, have been affected and have multiple health problems–including cleft palate, mental disabilities, hernias, and extra fingers and toes, and many other birth defects.
Recent laboratory tests of human tissue samples ( blood, fat tissue, and breast milk) taken from veterans who were exposed during the war and people living in sprayed areas revealed levels of dioxin higher than levels found in people living in non-sprayed areas of Vietnam as well as people living in industrialised countries. The most noteworthy are the levels of dioxin in breast milk. The high level of dioxin in nursing mothers shows how contamination spreads and bio-acumulates from mothers to their children (5).
Epidemiological studies show an elevated rate of diseases and disorders in people exposed to dioxin. These include high rates of cancers, abnormalities during pregnancies, neurological and metabolic disorders, and especially birth defects (5).
Environment: The consequences of spraying these toxic chemicals continue to have devastating effects on the environment. Millions of gallons of Agent Orange caused a great ecological imbalance. It destroyed timber, wild animals and forest products. Without forest cover to retain water, flooding in the rainy season and drought in the dry season has adversely affected agricultural production. Topsoil is easily washed away, further hindering forest recovery. While the uplands have been and continue to be eroded, the lowlands have become choked with sediment, further increasing the threat of flooding (5).
The disabilities of some of the children at Hoi An Orphanage are a result of Agent Orange dioxin poisoning.
In the picture above, 2 badly-disabled children who came to the Orphanage in 2005 were affected by this chemical. Anh and Trang were 16 and 19 year old boys with immense physical disability. In late 2005, the Government gave their father, Mr Nhan, permission to live at the Orphanage with his 2 boys. They had no mental or intellectual disability, but living at the Orphanage allowed them to continue their education in Hoi An. Mr Nhan’s wife was at home with their youngest son, who had extreme learning difficulties, and their adopted son. Mr. Nhan was tireless in his efforts for his sons. He took them to and from school, carried them to the toilet, washed and dressed them etc. Mr. Nhan and his family was extremely poor and did not have a regular job because he would always be on hand to help his sons. Besides the many setbacks, the family remained positive, always friendly, chatty and interested in other people. The boys were immediately adopted into the Orphanage family, and the children spent hours in their room, talking to them, helping them and pushing them around in their wheelchairs (6).
In the 2006 during the school summer holidays, Mr. Nhan, Anh and Trang returned to their home in the remote countryside to stay with their mother and 2 younger brothers. Trang caught a cold, which quickly developed into pneumonia. The local doctor was unable to treat him so Mr Nhan brought his son to the hospital in Hoi An. It was too late. Trang died on 31st August 2006, 2 days before his 17th birthday. The family were devastated; they always lived in a state of fear that their eldest son, Anh, who had the same disabilities and fragile health, would soon die (6).
Young people with severe curvatures of the spine like Anh and Trang have a poor cough reflex. They cannot easily clear their lungs from infections, and therefore find it difficult to fight off minor infections, which escalate rapidly. Sadly, the family’s worst fears came true when Anh became ill on 31 March 2008. He died early the next day (6).
Le Thi Hong Hanh, a 19 year old was born with hands and feet. Her skin falls from her and her whole body is a mass of scabs and open wounds. Her hands and feet have worn down to mere stumps. The mother used to live in Quang Nqai Province and remebers the agent orange falling on the rice paddies. Nothing survived and the village had to ask for food from neighbouring provinces (7).
Interview with victims of agent orange: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCqok_UvwY0
Birth Defects caused by agent Orange: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zay0zcC0K4&oref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fresults%3Fsearch_query%3Dagent%2Borange%26aq%3Df&has_verified=1 (need to sign into youtube….so just check the tabs near the tool bar.)
Interview with a family affected by agent orange: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJxb7CY13uc (start at 7:00 in the video)
When I visited Vietnam, I visited the Museum of American War Atrocities. In this museum, it focused a lot on agent orange and what it did to Vietnamese. Although it focused on a small village call My Lai (Mee- lie), this museum really expressed what they whole country felt and what the effect that the war had on the vietnamese people. Here are some pictures of the Museum (8).
Inside the Museum, it shows American weapons used against the Vietnamese during the Vietnam war (8).
Inside the Museum, a Dummy portraying Northern POW (8).
Outside the museum, it shows American tank on display (8).
Also outside of the museum, it shows American helicopter with rocket launcher used in battle in Vietnam (8).
Here are some Pictures that are hung inside the museum.
Picture of American soldier holding the charred remains of a VC soldier who was burned to death by a Napalm Bomb (8).
Photo of little American boy who lost his father in Vietnam sitting in military graveyard (8).
Picture of highly decorated army sergeant who returned his medals and telling the Vietnamese people that he was wrong and sorry (8).
Video of the Museum (Tour) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foCG9QYi1kQ