Archive for March, 2014

Nguyen Thi Van Long. Photograph by Chris Hopkins

The Village of Friendship

‘The United States government has pledged $43 million between 2012 and 2016 to clean up the mess caused by the spraying of over 60 million litres of Agent Orange, between 1962 and 1971 as part of Operation Ranch-hand. Some would say; too little, too late. In 1988 one veteran began his own journey of recompense and initiated what is now known in Vietnam as The Friendship Village.’ For many of us Gen X’ers reared on a diet of television and Hollywood, our enduring vision of the war in Vietnam is one of low flying choppers rising into the horizon, leaving a trail of fiery destruction, to a Doors or Wagner soundtrack. ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning…’ proclaimed Lt Colonel Kilgore in 1979s Apocalypse Now. ‘Smells like…victory’. […]

by · March 26, 2014 · World
Photograph by Chris Hopkins

The Battle of the Hmong

The trail from Sapa, in North Vietnam’s Hoang Lien Son Mountains, to the small village of Lao Chai is well worn. Most of the 550,000 international visitors to the area in early 2013 would have donned a raincoat; followed their guide, probably provided by their hotel and sourced from the local village, down the long, steep road, through the throngs of Hmong women aggressively hawking their wares, arrived at the rural village swamped by rice fields, and ironically thought to themselves: ‘its nice to get off the tourist trail.’ As I followed my guide Xu, who was provided by the hotel and sourced from the local village, down the long, steep road, two Hmong women from the said throng decided I was worth following. Mai is seventeen and has a […]

by · March 26, 2014 · World
Merv Williamson. Photograph by Chris Hopkins

The Last Dairy Farmer

Merv Williamson has been photographed many times. Various local papers and rural magazines have told his story as the last dairy farmer in the Whittlesea area. His kitchen wall is covered with photocopy’s of images of him and Mary, posing with members of his herd of fresian cows, all of which have names. However he shifts uncomfortably in his couch as the camera is switched to video mode. “I wouldn’t want your job for quid’s he mutters, before cryptically adding, “I’m not too flash with the technology, not really a TV person you see!” Merv and Mary Williamson are old-fashioned and they like it that way. Born of an era where hard work and toil was worn like a badge of honour, the 77 and 79 year olds still rise […]

by · March 25, 2014 · Profile