THE FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE
Safe home for victims of Agent Orange
It's been forty years since the Vietnamese last woke up with the noise of the bombs and forty-four years since they last saw these weird airplanes pour out that fine, colorless and painless rain on their forests, their fields, their skin. Called "Agent Orange" here, "Orange poison*" if we literally translate from Vietnamese into English, the defoliant containing dioxin killed and still kills people. Between three hundred thousand and one million children are now severely disabled. Having a mental and/or physical deficiency, they have diseases with unpronounceable names and are rejected by society.
The close family tries to protect these children without any possibility of socialization. The world is not made for them, but life, holly in Vietnam, is maintained and the parents keep them at home. Only a few exceptional places can host them. The Friendship Village is one of those, three hectares for them, child victims but also veterans. This place has emerged thanks to an American veteran George Mizo. His determination allowed him to gather five committees of veterans, American, French, English, German and Japanese in order to raise funds.
I stayed in this “village” for a month to photograph this place, out of time, a protected space where residents live together.
+ photographs of the Friendship village - Full text available on request.