Life in Germany - the early years

by - August 25, 2017

Dad Pham & Mum Pham lived in Germany for 11 years. Dad Pham remembers it fondly, but he also says it was the most stressful time of his life. You'd think being in the navy during the Vietnam War or being a prisoner in a communist reeducation camp would be more stressful. But no, setting up a regular life in Germany was the toughest time in his life.

Regular life as a refugee is stressful though. Dad was caring for family members scattered between refugee camps and back home in a war-ravaged country. When he fled Vietnam, he carried the clothes on his back and the fate of his family with him. I can’t imagine how heavy the pressure must have been to a) not drown at sea b) find somewhere to call home c) make a new life starting with nothing.

Dad Pham worked his behind off to strategically get family members out of Vietnam, and also support them because the country wasn’t in a good way economically or socially. The stress probably contributed to his many hospitalisations for schizophrenic episodes in Germany. Worrying about things that are out of his control is a trigger because his brain can’t switch off, which is why he's so chilled out now because the Phamly is settled and well in Australia.

Dad still loves his time in Germany though because the country’s generosity made our Phamly possible. They took Mum & Dad in, they set them up with housing and education, generously donated clothing and food, and the locals welcomed them into the community. If they hadn't taken in my refugee parents, my folks never would have met and I wouldn't exist so thank you, Germany. I owe you my life, and I love you. I cannot wait to see you again soon!

Little Sissy Pham and I are adventuring in Europe at the moment. Currently in Geneva then heading to our birth town for a Phamly reunion 3 decades after we left! I'm pretty excited to see where life took the family members my Dad helped. I will write about our visit when I get back home to Oz!


If you want to start from the beginning of Phamly history, read:
Part 1 - O Captain! My Captain! Dad Pham's navy days during the Vietnam War.
Part 2 - P.O.W. Viet Cong Re-education Camp Dad Pham's time as a prisoner of war.
Part 3 - Living with Viet Cong Mum Pham's experience with communism.
Part 4 - Boat People Dad Pham seeks refuge after the war.
Part 5 - Finding Faith Dad finds peace.
Part 6 - When Herr met Frau - Dad Pham meets Mum Pham.
Part 7 - Life in Germany: the early years - Dad Pham sets up life in Germany.
Part 8 - Life in Germany: the later years - Dad gets sick, Mum steps up.
Part 9 - Getting ready for Australia - Mum Pham is on a mission.
Part 10 - Coming to Australia - My first memories of Australia.
Part 11 - Live in Brisbane the first time - The story of why we left Brisbane.
Part 12 - Moving to Melbourne - First impressions.
Part 13 - Life in Melbourne - Dad Pham - The good old days.
Part 14 - The Other Phams - Our neighbours in Melbourne were Phams too.
Part 15 - Life in Melbourne - Mum Pham - Our Sunday Phamly traditions began in Melbourne.
Part 16 - Cats On A Train - Moving to Brisbane
Part 17 - Sleepwalking Scare - Moving to Brisbane continued
Part 18 - A House in Brisbane - Moving to Brisbane continued some more

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