My first visit to Saigon was back in 1993. Like Christina, Vietnam immediately captured my heart. It was the first Asian country I had ever visited and it assaulted all of my senses. The sights, the sounds, the smells….I had never experienced anything like it! We vowed to come back and live there one day. Upon my return to Australia I devoured all things Vietnam. This included reading “Bridge Across My Sorrows”.
I'm sure like most, Christina’s story resonated with me and I never forgot it. So much so that back in 2009 when a group of my girlfriends and I went over for a holiday we decided to fill our suitcases with donations and also raise money for the CNCF Bicycle Program. It was the absolute highlight of a wonderful holiday. We arrived at the Foundation not expecting the ceremony that was awaiting us. 20 shiny new bikes for 20 excited families. If you have ever tried making a speech that is being translated whilst crying let me tell you it’s not easy! I often wonder if maybe one day a young Vietnamese university student remembers the day that a crying Aussie mum gave them the bike that enable them to get to primary school…..
With CNCF firmly entrenched in my life there was one thing that I had never done. I had never met Christina! The Noble movie was being filmed whilst I was living there. I even have a few friends that were extras. I could not wait to see it! When the opportunity arose for me to attend the Austrlian Premiere in Melbourne I jumped at the chance. Christina was coming over from Ireland and I was so excited to hear her speak (maybe even sing!)
What a fabulous night it was. The Noble movie took me back to the country that I love and how it was all of those years ago. For better AND worse. Christina’s story, as I knew it would, made me laugh and made me cry. It is one of determination, dedication but above all else, love. She spoke to the audience afterwards and again, it was laughter through tears. That woman is a cyclone! A force to be reckoned with. Such passion, such hope, such love. She is truly one of the most remarkable women I have ever come across.
I was able to share with her and I was left feeling that the children of Vietnam and Mongolia have a very special mother indeed in Mama Tina. She has their back. She loves them unconditionally. She will not take no for an answer. It will always be Chưa. She will fight for them all the way. And boy can she sing!