A Vietnamese man’s Facebook post on his experience of arriving in the UK as a refugee has been liked and shared by tens of thousands of people, amid the current debate about Europe’s migrant crisis.
Tat Wa Lay’s post talks about how he was one of thousands of “boat people” who fled during and after the Việt Nam War to escape persecution and poverty – his family was rescued from a rickety boat by a British Navy ship and sent to Hong Kong, before they were settled in the UK.
Now living back in Hồ Chí Minh City, Việt Nam, he told the BBC’s Phạm Nga he had no idea his post would attract such attention.
“When I shared it on my Facebook page, I just wanted to reach out to all the people who have a negative opinion about the current refugee crisis.
I guess I wanted to change their mindset, to tell them that refugees are really not bad people and that we have so much to give back to the society.
I also wanted to promote kindness.
I am totally overwhelmed by people’s reactions to my Facebook post.
It was shared more than 100,000 times just over a couple days.
So many people called and wrote to me how they found it moving, some even cried.
Tat Wa Lay was flooded with scores of comments on his Facebook post
An old neighbour who had problems with us refugees when I was growing up in Bristol also contacted me to apologise about the past.
My Vietnamese friends joke that I have become famous, though it was of course not my intention.
I came back to Việt Nam for the first time in 2010 to rediscover my roots.
Since then, I’ve gone back and forth a few times.
I first found a job teaching English at a school in Hồ Chí Minh City.
And I am currently still working for the same school, only now I’m developing iPad apps to help kids learn English.
I plan to go back to the UK next year but I’m having so much fun here so it will probably be very difficult to leave.
My message to the people in Britain?
‘Happiness comes from making others happy’.”