The story of Ri
My Facebook timeline shows a constant stream of locals posting about having found stray or ailing dogs, kittens, cats, etc, and wondering what to do about them. Unfortunately, this is pretty common here, as people (including the High and Mighty Expats) discard pets frequently without much thought. It's a different culture, and coming from a country where we are passionate about spaying, neutering, and saving every animal, I've had to develop a blind eye to a lot of things. I saw dog meat at a butcher shop in Go Vap (a northern, poorer district in Saigon) and had to develop a stone heart instantaneously.
And then you meet someone like my friend Trang. She lives in the Vietnamese part of District 7 but hails from Hoi An in the central part of the country. She finds the stray, the broken, the bleeding animals and nurses them back to health before sending them to live on her parents farm just outside of Hoi An. Recently she saw a man tossing a small bird into the road. When she asked him why he did that, he said the bird was too scrawny to eat so he might as well throw it out. Trang scooped up the sad animal and saw that it was a baby owl, probably minutes from death. She brought it home, named it Ri (pronounced Ree), nursed it, and now it flies around her room when she comes home from work, hooting happily.
She can't save every discarded animal in Saigon (though she sure as hell is trying, what with her little menagerie in Hoi An); but it's little stories like this which restore my faith in humanity.