The Importance of 036

Boat 036 on the South China Sea

Boat 036 on the South China Sea

036 are a combination of special numbers for me.  As I get older, it has become more and more important for me to attend an annual fundraising event run by my parents and their small group of dedicated friends.  Over the years the gathering has grown through word of mouth and now attracts a few hundred people – allowing elderly to catch up,  children to run riot, some loud karaoke, dancing, plenty of food and a raffle with really good odds!

The event is to remember and celebrate the families who risked their lives on the small fishing boat 036 which left Vietnam over 30 years ago to cross the South China Sea in search of a better life. It was one of many similar boats – few of those boats made it to their destinations with hijackings by pirates a common occurrence. 036 was heading for a similar fate when it came across a British cargo ship whose kind Captain dropped ropes over the side, allowed the 300 refugees to climb on board and then left the boat burning at sea.

One of the young couples on the boat were my parents. With them was their one year old first born who decided that at sea, on a hot deck and packed boat, was a good time to learn to walk. That baby was me.

This evening, during post event drinks and supper at my parents house, I had the pleasure of listening to my parents and their friends retell stories of what it was like on the boat. Some were funny – how my mum had to make me paper shoes so I wouldn’t burn my feet on the  deck.  Others were just inspiring –  initial feelings of elation when they were rescued, followed by fear on how they would survive, look after their families and make a living in a new land where they had nothing, didn’t speak the language or know a soul. Well I think they’re all pretty cool.

All monies raised during the event help to fund the next with any surplus going towards rebuilding a road in the village of Song Mao, Vietnam where the majority of families in 036 were from.  Here are the only set of photos that catalogue our story of 036.  The woman carrying baby at 5.01 is my mother and I.

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