The intense flushes of heat come several times an hour, as they have
done for years, overwhelming the body and propelling the search for cold
water. It makes him angry, frustrated – he’d like to know why it
happens, but nothing shows up in hospital scans.
There’s an air of torment about Cong Nguyen. The 16-year-old is among
four siblings, two of whom suffer the same regular attacks of heat that
mean they can never stray far from a water tank. To make matters worse,
he has never been able to grow teeth or a full crop of hair; instead,
clusters of wispy, thin strands sit above sunken eyes. “Some kids avoid
me and laugh at me,” he says from the home he shares with his brothers
and parents in Bien Hoa, just outside Ho Chi Minh City.
His mother thinks she knows the cause of his problems. As a teenager
in the mid-1970s she would collect wood in a field with her father in
southern Vietnam. The two would spend all day among the foliage, cutting
down small trees, scavenging in thickets for branches that they would
then carry back to their village in the evening.
The field, and those surrounding it, was the site of heavy battles
between Viet Cong troops and US forces during the Vietnam War, when the
US sprayed millions of liters of toxic Agent Orange across the south of
the country in a bid to flush out rebels from the jungles and force
civilians to relocate to cities, thereby cutting key support bases for
the Viet Cong. His mother, Thuy Nguyen, now 66, remembers as a child
hearing the sounds of planes flying overhead. During their foraging
after the war, she often found bombshells in the fields, and from time
to time would pick them up and examine them. A nearby river had an
abundance of fish that she and her father would eat.
READ MORE: http://www.ucanews.com/news/in-vietnam-agent-orange-still-makes-its-deadly-presence-felt/70511