Tuesday, October 25, 2016

In Vietnam, Agent Orange victims struggle to survive as Monsanto thrives

Lying on a simple mat, Ho Thi Minh looks to be waiting for something in the darkness. She stares, silently, at the ceiling until a visitor enters the room. Her head slowly turns, casting large dark eyes.
Her delicate body isn't strong enough to rise. She looks to be eight or nine years old, but this year, she will "celebrate" her 31st birthday.
Next door, her brother Ho Phuoc Hoa, 46, lies in the same position. He doesn’t speak either. When his mother comes up to wash him with a damp rag, he struggles to raise his arms, and then returns to his prone position.
At the age of 66, Phan Thi Nao does what she can to care for her children and husband, Ho Phuoc Ha. He sits by the door of the house, most days, and also has difficulty moving.
Doctors are not 100 percent sure that he's a victim of dioxin -- a toxic substance found in the chemical defoliant Agent Orange, which U.S. forces sprayed indiscriminately during the Vietnam War. For Nao's children on the other hand, the diagnosis is beyond doubt: they suffer from the effects of the abominable chemical weapon and are the collateral victims of a war that ended before they were born.
The old woman still remembers hiding as planes sprayed the defoliant on her while she was still pregnant.
“I was exposed to Agent Orange during my time fighting in the local resistance force between 1972 and 1975,” she said.

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