Refugee finds success in Bundaberg after long journey

WORLD REFUGEE DAY: Tam Dang of SSS Strawberries shares his story about being a refugee. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail

WORLD REFUGEE DAY: Tam Dang of SSS Strawberries shares his story
about being a refugee. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail

TAM Dang was just three years old when he and his six brothers and sisters were pulled from their beds in the middle of the night and placed on a boat for a one-way trip to a new country and a new life.

Tam’s parents took the ultimate gamble, making the choice to immigrate to Australia from Vietnam in the ’80s but it’s one that has paid off by the punnet-full.

“In the middle of the night they put all us kids in a little boat and our uncle took us out to a bigger boat,” Mr Dang said.

“That was the end of Vietnam for us.

“When we left they were going to leave my brother behind because if you all leave, they confiscate everything you own and if we were caught by the Viet Cong, then we would have had something to go back to, but because no one was there, they took everything we had.”

“It was quite a big decision to all go but for her (my mum), if we died, we died together.”

Mr Dang and his family are known around Bundaberg as the people responsible for the hugely successful SSS Strawberries.

After fleeing Vietnam, the family faced a four-year wait at the Galang Refugee Camp in Indonesia while their applications to move to Australia went through the correct channels.

“We were in barracks and we slept on the floors and it got so crowded,” Mr Dang said.

“We were let out and they said, ‘you’ll be here for a long time so build your own houses and farm your own crops’.

“We kept one of the monkeys as a pet, which was really cool.”

Four years later, the family stepped foot on Australian soil for the first time.

“That was huge for me, coming to Australia, because I felt there was hope,” he said.

“Coming to Australia I felt anything and everything is possible.”

Mr Dang said his family made the gamble to start their strawberry farm despite there being only one other farm of its type in the area.

“It was another huge gamble but I think it was the best decision,” he said.

“Bundaberg has been huge in making us a success and we really thank the community for that.”

Mr Dang said no matter where the family was, they would have strived for success.

“Life is a gamble – you don’t know what the future will hold,” he said.

“We have that mentality to battle on and I think that would be the same whether we were living here or in Vietnam.

“We’re very very traditional and we stick together like glue.”

Mr Dang said he couldn’t imagine living elsewhere.

“I have been extremely blessed,” he said.

“I grew to love this place and I am full of gratitude every day.”

Original articl was written by the Bundaberg Newsmail. article can be found here…