Portrait by Isabelle MacAdie
During last year’s Year 11 Our World trip to Vietnam, Isabelle MacAdie was quite moved by a photograph she saw in the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. It depicted a Vietnamese woman cradling her child who was born blind. This family are among the millions of Vietnamese people who have been affected by the herbicide known as Agent Orange which was sprayed liberally by American forces over vast areas of Vietnam between 1961 and 1971 to halt food supplies to the North Vietnamese Armies and to remove the jungle cover that was hiding the North Vietnamese soldiers. Children are still being born today with genetic defects from the exposure of their grandparents to the chemical during the war.
After returning, Isabelle kept thinking about this photograph and decided to draw it for herself. She spoke to the staff at Senior School recently and described how she felt the process of drawing the emotion on the faces of these two people had helped her to connect with their experience on a new and deeper level. Isabelle has also written the following description of her drawing:
Vietnamese mother and her daughter
It’s often hard to picture the effects of war on individual people; instead we picture those affected as an indistinct group. They are often reduced to numbers and statistics; their own personal liveliness disregarded. This mother and her daughter - blinded by the hereditary effects of the poisonous gas known as Agent Orange - allow us a unique insight into the individual lives of those who struggle every day with the consequences of war. In this unique case, the exceptional powers of unconditional motherly love are shown and demonstrate one aspect of war which is not commonly seen.
Isabelle has kindly given her permission for us to copy her drawing and we are proud to have it displayed in the Administration area at Senior School.
Outdoor Education Teacher