Tan Le, famous telecommunications entrepreneur and co-founder of Emotiv, was only four years old when she and her family fled from Vietnam. She spent five days and nights with her young sister, mother, and grandmother on a small boat carrying 150 other people. Read on to discover the journey that brought her to where she is today.
In the middle of the night in 1981, Tan Le and her family were taken to a hiding spot before clambering onto a small boat. In their hearts, they carried the hopes of escaping war-torn Saigon in southern Vietnam.
Tan Le and her family feared for their lives. They had to flee with discretion and secrecy to avoid persecution by the Vietnamese government. This was the case because her maternal grandfather had been politically outspoken. The family decided that fleeing to a safer place would provide them with more freedom and opportunity.
One of the hardships that Tan Le faced on her journey was a shortage of food and drink on the boat. The supply ran out during the five days and nights at sea, starving more than 150 passengers. While on the boat, Tan Le also had to stay awake at night to comfort her mother about the nightmares she was having. They carried a small bottle of poison in the likely circumstance of a pirate attack. In that case, Tan Le, her sister and her mother would take it. For six hours, the boat engine died and failed to start.
Le’s mother took her and her sister to a hiding spot in Saigon, Vietnam before boarding the boat. They were called to board an escape boat disguised as a fishing vessel. They travelled on the South China Sea for five days and nights and ran out of food and water before reaching Malaysia. Fortunately, a British oil tanker found them and took them to Malaysia where they stayed in a refugee camp for 3 months.