Memories of godfather Ho Chi Minh

Wednesday, 2017-02-01 15:26:50
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Uncle Ho holding his goddaughter, who he affectionately called Babette, just after she was born at the Port-Royal Maternity Hospital (Photo:
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NDO – Born at a time when President Ho Chi Minh was on an official visit to France in 1946, Elisabeth Helfer Aubrac was adopted by President Ho as a goddaughter. More than 70 years has passed, Elisabeth still keeps in mind the memories of her special godfather, who was simple, considerate and compassionate in his personal life, reports Nhan Dan Newspaper reporter Khai Hoan from France.

Elisabeth is the daughter of Raymond Aubrac, a French revolutionist who made significant contributions to the national struggle for independence and peace of the people of Vietnam. The special friendship between President Ho and Elisabeth’s father has contributed to her strong attachment to Vietnam and the Vietnamese people.

Her apartment in Paris is decorated with many objects imbued with Vietnamese culture, and gifts she was presented by her godfather, including a rattan ball and a small ivory statue featuring a boy riding a buffalo. There are also albums full of pictures featuring Uncle Ho and her father, and a picture capturing Uncle Ho holding her in his arms when she was just born.

Recalling moments from the past, Elisabeth said that when Uncle Ho was in Paris, she was too small to remember the time she spent with the great Vietnamese leader. Although she can’t remember the happy moment when Uncle Ho held her in his arms, she was told by her father that when she was born at the Port-Royal Maternity Hospital, President Ho came to visit her, presented flowers to her mother, and adopted her as his goddaughter.

Her family also had the honour to welcome and host the President from early August to mid-September, 1946, which was the most memorable period of time of the Aubrac family.

“My father reiterated that his meeting with President Ho in 1946 in Paris was destiny and a turning point in his life which brought him to Vietnam,” Elisabeth said.

Through stories told by her father as well as her close watch of the Vietnamese people’s fierce struggle for freedom under the leadership of President Ho Chi Minh, she has held that it is surely no coincidence that the Vietnamese people as well as those who were lucky enough to meet President Ho had the most sincere love and respect towards him. He is a symbol of patriotism, humanity and simplicity.

Taking one of the President’s gifts from its box, Elisabeth said that the rattan ball was her birthday present from Uncle Ho with a wish for intellectual, success, luck and a bright future ahead for her goddaughter.

Elisabeth and a small ivory statue of a boy riding a buffalo, a gift from her godfather President Ho Chi Minh (Photo: VOV)

Although he was always very busy, President Ho Chi Minh often sent letters, pictures and gifts to his goddaughter, whom he affectionately called “Babette”. In reply, Babette drew pictures and sent letters to her godfather in Vietnam.

Taking a carefully-wrapped package from a cabinet, Elisabeth said that this was a special gift that President Ho Chi Minh gave her at his last meeting with her father in 1967. It is a a piece of silk from Van Phuc silk village, which was presented to her to make a wedding dress when she got married. However, Elisabeth didn’t use it. She keeps it intact and treasures it as a sacred object which helps her to reminisce about her beloved godfather.

“These objects created a close relationship with the home country and people of my beloved godfather,” she said, adding that every time she looks at the object, she remembers Uncle Ho.

Elisabeth visited Vietnam several times with her father and she is proud of her father’s positive contributions to Vietnam’s national struggle for liberation and its Doi Moi (Renewal) process as well as his effort to nurture the friendship and co-operation between Vietnam and France. Her father also remained a close friend of President Ho Chi Minh despite the geological distance.

Inheriting the special ties, Elisabeth and her husband visit Vietnam every year to give lectures at the French-Vietnam Centre. Whenever she returns to Vietnam, she is happy to see continuous positive changes in the country as Uncle Ho had hoped for when he was alive. Every visit to Vietnam always bring her an emotional feeling as she can see the silhouette of Uncle Ho’s legacy of independence, his belief in victory and his hope for a brighter future of the country.

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