Last updated Thu 30 Apr 2015
Last updated Thu 30 Apr 2015
Forty years ago the United States launched Operation Babylift, the name given to the mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War. The US President at the time, Gerald Ford, gave his commitment to help children leave the country:
This Monday marks the 40th anniversary of the day that nearly 100 orphans were airlifted out of Vietnam following the end of the Vietnam War. First of all, I just can’t believe I’m old enough to celebrate 40 years of anything, and secondly, since the 35th anniversary so much has happened.
I’ve met up with a great many Vietnamese adoptees, both from the UK airlift, and airlifts arranged globally and it’s clear that we all share a common ground and common feelings. Meeting the Adoptees in Vietnam for the 35th was a magical experience, spiritually, emotionally and personally.
I was also involved in many radio interviews, a local interview on BBC South East, featured on BBC1’s Inside Out and even an interview on BBC News 24, which all covered the story of the Babylift 35 years on. Inside Out followed my journey to Vietnam as I tried to find some more information surrounding my orphanage and parentage.
I have met up with Brian Freemantle, the then Foreign Editor of the Daily Mail who played an instrumental part in the Airlift UK bound. This was a very important meeting for me as it added another angle and further depth to the story, since all the adoptees were babies and young children, so it was important to receive an adult’s version of the story from right inside where the action occurred.
I’ve also met with David Tolfree who volunteered with Project Vietnam Orphans (PVO) in Vietnam.
I fully intended to go to Vietnam again this year for the 40th anniversary, however with my son being so young, thought it was not the best timing, and perhaps rather overwhelming for him. I’ll take him one day in the next few years, when it won’t be so daunting for him with so much action, can handle the heat better and hopefully make the 45th anniversary in 2020. I think it’s important for the second generation to find out about their roots.
It was hoped that BBC’s The One Show would cover the story, however, disappointingly, they have decided to run with a story about Dark Horse.
Alternatively, BBC World Service will be picking up the story with a radio interview on Wednesday with some other adoptees sharing their stories also, hopefully with some adoptees in Vietnam right now.
I keep getting asked about the spelling of my name and I’d like to confirm that my name is spelled Viktoria, not Victoria, the conventional spelling. I’ve always been different and I love being different!
An Eastbourne woman’s journey to find out her past in Vietnam is the story behind a BBC Inside Out which was featured on BBC1 Monday 9 November 2009.
Co-Produced by Paul Gibson from the Sussex Press Agency, the piece which was screened by BBC1’s Inside Out South-East is part of a longer documentary which highlights Viktoria Cowley’s journey to find out her background, after being adopted from Vietnam during the fall of Saigon in 1975.
Above: Polly Evans and Rob Smith from BBC South-East Today talk to Viktoria Cowley Live on the programme.
Viktoria was one of the 99 babies airlifted to the UK during Operation Babylift which was organised by the Daily Mail. 34 years later, Vikki has set out to discover her past and meet as many of the other adoptees who were on the same flight as possible. BBC Inside Out will feature Viktoria discovering a photograph of herself on the front page of the Daily Mail in 1975, and travel to London to meet a group of other Vietnamese Orphans.
April 2010 marks the 35th Anniversary of the airlift, and thousands of people will travel to the country to re-unite and mark this special anniversay. 2,500 babies were airlifted from the country during the Vietnam war, but only a handful came to the UK.
BBC Inside Out will also be producing a 30 minute special programme inconjunction with the Sussex Press Agency early next year as the crew travel to Vietnam with Viktoria.
Over a two day period, Viktoria Cowley completed fifteen radio interviews and one live television news discussion programme. These were as follows:
BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio Sussex, Sovereign Radio, South-East Today, BBC World Service, BBC 5 Live, BBC Wiltshire, BBC Radio Derby, BBC Radio Berkshire, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC World Today Programme, BBC Five Live, BBC World Service. Other Coverage included; Eastbourne Herald, Hastings Observer, Bexhill Observer, BBC Magazine.
The programme is also expected to be screened on BBC World Asia in the near future.
Read more about the Sussex Press Agency.
I have realised that my writing style and writing frequency has changed over the course of the time I’ve been sharing my thoughts and feelings with this blog.
One reason is time. When I did my creative writing course a few years ago, I was warned that this would be one of the main excuses for not wiriting and was encouraged to not surrednder to this – I HAVE TO MAKE TIME TO WRITE!
However, being too busy (another excuse stemmed from the first) with the documentary in different ways; filming, making and keeping contacts, trying to find out personal information from different agencies has made it difficult to write and I must admit I’ve sort of forgotten a bit about it.
So here I am, having given myself a slap on the wrist and an apology to you for not keeping you up to date – my next entry will be the wonderful reunion I spent with other Vietnamese adoptees in London last weekend.