Asia

Migrant crisis: The refugee's post which moved thousands

Picture of Tat Way Lay and his mother in Ho Chi Minh City in early 2015 Image copyright Tat Wa Lay
Image caption Last year Tat Wa Lay and his mother visited the house they used to live in in Vietnam before they fled

A Vietnamese man's Facebook post on his experience of arriving in the UK as a refugee has been liked and shared by tens of thousands of people, amid the current debate about Europe's migrant crisis.

Tat Wa Lay's post talks about how he was one of thousands of "boat people" who fled during and after the Vietnam War to escape persecution and poverty - his family was rescued from a rickety boat by a British Navy ship and sent to Hong Kong, before they were settled in the UK.

Now living back in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, he told the BBC's Nga Pham he had no idea his post would attract such attention.

Image copyright Facebook

"When I shared it on my Facebook page, I just wanted to reach out to all the people who have a negative opinion about the current refugee crisis.

I guess I wanted to change their mindset, to tell them that refugees are really not bad people and that we have so much to give back to the society.

I also wanted to promote kindness. I am totally overwhelmed by people's reactions to my Facebook post. It was shared more than 100,000 times just over a couple days.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Tat Wa Lay was flooded with scores of comments on his Facebook post
Image copyright Facebook
Image caption A woman also shared his post in a Danish group

So many people called and wrote to me how they found it moving, some even cried.

An old neighbour who had problems with us refugees when I was growing up in Bristol also contacted me to apologise about the past.

My Vietnamese friends joke that I have become famous, though it was of course not my intention.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption His post struck a chord with many readers, particularly other refugee and migrant families
Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Children of Vietnamese refugees in other countries also shared their stories

I came back to Vietnam for the first time in 2010 to rediscover my roots. Since then, I've gone back and forth a few times.

I first found a job teaching English at a school in Ho Chi Minh City, and I am currently still working for the same school, only now I'm developing iPad apps to help kids learn English.

I plan to go back to the UK next year but I'm having so much fun here so it will probably be very difficult to leave.

My message to the people in Britain? Very simple: 'Happiness comes from making others happy'."


A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.