Plight of Vietnamese youth in relation to the American presence

SR 2100
Beep tone
Roll 100 of Vietnam Project
(Champagne roll!!!)
720 TAKE 1
Interview with Nguyen Thi Mai, 50, Saigon housewife who now runs school for New Women.
Please go ahead with your narration.
Nguyen Thi Mai:
I was the person who lived in Saigon throughout the period when the American armed forces were here. During this period I realized the disastrous impacts of the Americans on the young people, males and females alike. There were many girls who were influenced by the luxuries and material goods it is a fact that there were a lot of money and goods and from well-bred families these girls became corrupted. Then there were young men who became drug addicts. The majority of these people were working for the Americans.
The girls who came from middle-class families and had some education became secretaries. They began to have salaries and began to go out with the foreigners. Their ways of life changed. They did not live like they used to live formerly anymore. And the girls from poor families became servants and chambermaids. As chambermaids, because of pressures of one kind or another from the Americans, these girls became soiled. And so after that they worked as bargirls and continued to be spoiled.
This situation was clearest in areas like Tan Son Nhut. For example, my family was living close to the Tan Son Nhut airport, and so I saw with my own eyes that there were many children from the families surrounding us who became spoiled. Many girls I knew grew up very well behaved, but after that they became prostitutes and gave birth to half bred children. So there were times when I was very afraid that the influence would spread to my children. My sons and my daughters were all getting big.
And so I was afraid that if I remained in that area the influence would spread to my children. So there were many times when I wanted to move to another area. I saw very clearly that the Vietnamese people, especially the young people, became increasingly degenerated. And this was the saddest thing of all. Until this day, as a person in charge of this school, the students who have come to this school have largely been natives of the countryside. But because of the war, the bombs and the shells, they got driven into Saigon.
As a result, they became spoiled. This is a sad thing, and I feel that I have the responsibility to do whatever I can to help these girls to have a normal life. Because, in reality, the Vietnamese women are women have lots of self respect. But the impact of the war and the presence of the Americans created moral degeneration among the young people. Since I have been in charge of this place ever since 1976, I have found out that there were many girls from very well-bred families who became prostitutes and dissipated people. And I have come to realize that because of all those influences, many girls are still suffering much loss in their own lives.

Degeneration of a young girl

721 TAKE 1
Please give us an example of what led a girl to become a prostitute.
Nguyen Thi Mai:
I can still remember that in 1977 I accepted a student who came from the district of Cai Be in Tien Giang province. Her family was in the paddy fields, that is to say they were peasants. She told me that she lived there with her parents and grandmother. But one day the family was hit by bombs and so her parents died. She was left only with her grandmother.
Therefore, he did not know what to do to earn a living. There was no other working person in the family. Therefore, she listened to friends who asked her to go to Saigon to find work. So in 1969 she went to Saigon. She did not have any skill, and so people told her at first that she should work as a servicewoman for the Americans.
722 TAKE 1
Please tell us again from the year 1969 when that woman had to come to Saigon.
Nguyen Thi Mai:
This girl told me that in 1969, when she was only sixteen years of age, she listened to some friends and came to Saigon to find work in order to help feed her grandmother. After she arrived in Saigon, she did not know what to do because she was unskilled. So people took her to work as a chambermaid for the Americans. Every day, twice a day, she went to his room to make up his bed and clean his things.
There was no problem at first. And she thought that it was not such hard work. It was a light job. There was no problem at all. And so she thought that it was all right. There were no extra demands on her and she was earning good pay. But she did not know that, after a short time, she was raped by the American who employed her. Having been thus soiled, she became spoiled. After she got raped, she stopped working as a chambermaid and began to work as a bargirl. And these bars, as she told me, were located on Tu Do Street, which is called Dong Khoi Street nowadays.
Streets like this were full of bars which the American soldiers frequented. And so she worked as a bargirl since then. And every month she sent money home to her grandmother. She did not think that she was being spoiled. She only saw that she was doing good by helping her grandmother out and did not see that see was doing anything really wrong. And so she was passed from one man to another. This is to say that she entertained the customers in the bars, and after that, if the customers invited her to go out with them she would do so. Sometimes she went out with Korean soldiers, sometimes with American soldiers, and sometimes with the Chinese.
And so she slid further and further down. After liberation she went back to the countryside to visit her maternal grandmother. But she had already been used to the way of life in the city and did not want to live as a peasant girl anymore. So she went back to Saigon and continued to ply her trade as a prostitute. After that she was brought to the school and study. Now, she has returned to her native village to work and live with her maternal grandmother. This is an example of what I can see very clearly that, if there hadn't been a war, this girl would not have become so degenerated. When she became soiled, she was only fifteen or sixteen years of age.