National Geographic : 1955 Jun
874 U.S . Foreign Operations Administration Refugee Lads Wear Their Best Smiles to School as a New Life Begins Along with their houses, villagers build infirmaries, churches, and schools. These youngsters reciting a lesson in unison turn over their one-room school to adult classes at night. 800,000 acres of farmland under cultivation, much of it by refugees. Under the new law, absentee owners of estates, mostly in the far south, will be obliged eventually to work their now idle lands, often with refugee help, or rent them to farmers. A House Divided But the South Viet Nam Government still faces enormous problems in extending its control and enforcing its decrees throughout the country. Feudal chieftains, underworld groups, and religious sects have for years maintained standing armies of their own. Many large landlords, too, are understand ably reluctant to give up their holdings. The United States and other nations have worked hard to keep South Viet Nam from falling into Communist hands. The future of the refugees who fled from communism de pends to a large extent on whether South Viet Nam can stay free. And, conversely, how well the refugee problem is handled will, in turn, be an important factor in deciding the future of South Viet Nam. These 700,000 refugees, who surely proved that they are powerfully anti-Communist, are among the staunchest friends the Free World has in Asia. Witness a letter-and there are many like it-written by a refugee schoolboy to a U. S. friend, an FOA official who helped start his family on a new life: "Dear Sir: "The new Vietnamese year is going to come. I have nothing to wish you on the particular occasion of the new year. But, I have only my sincere heart to offer you. And I wish you a new happy year and above all you have always the plentiful health to be liable to help all the refugees on the hard way. I know also that you left your dear relatives, your family, your comfortable country-set to come in Viet Nam for your immense sacrifice and charity. "I want very much to see you and above all to sit next to you to learn to speak the American with you. I thank you very much because you sended me your photo that you took. "I beg to remain, dear Sir, yours respectfully. Your graceful Tran Luan Lai."