Lê Văn Sẻ was born on 02/02/1923 – he is 91 years old and his wife – Nguyễn Thị Lợi is 83 years old.
They have been together for 63 years. Sẻ was Lợi’s first and only love at the age of 21. They are both born in the vegetable village of Trà Quế, 3 kilometers from the town center. Although, Trà Quế is part of Hoi An for them Trà Quế is a different town, it is their town of 400 habitants.
THE FIRST PHOTO IN TRA QUE VILLAGE
Réhahn first met them in 2011, the neighbors of his home in Trà Quế. While Sẻ was harvesting his land in the old fashion way, Réhahn spotted him and asked if he could take photos. Sẻ kindly smiled and posed for the photographer. Directly after Réhahn finished taking the photos, Sẻ invited him to his home to have some Vietnamese tea and meet his wife. Réhahn will always remember the very warm welcome he received from this beautiful couple. After asking Réhahn many questions of his life, Réhahn asked in return, and the story Lê Văn Sẻ & Nguyễn Thị Lợi were about to tell was heartbreaking.
During the Indochina war, Sẻ was supplying the Viet Cong’s with food supplies but was caught by the French army, imprisoned and tortured for 10 month in Laos, at the time the French army were convinced that Sẻ was part of the Viet Cong army but once it proved he was not, Sẻ was released and came back to his home.
Unfortunately, the bad luck did not end here, during the Vietnam war, Sẻ was once again captured, this time by the American army who emprisoned him in an army jail in Hoi An for 6 month on grounds of (again) providing food for Viet Cong’s.
Meanwhile, Lợi was chief of women fighting for the liberation of Vietnam and was detained for 4 months by the American army.
Sẻ lost 2 younger brothers during the Vietnam war. Réhahn asked him if he had any hatred against the French and the Americans, and he replied that he lives in peace with the past and his old age has chosen to forgive.
THE PEACEFUL RETIREMENT IN AN ORGANIC VILLAGE
Sẻ wakes up every morning at 5am to harvest his land and sell his vegetables to the local Market, not one day goes by without seeing this lovely man harvesting his land. They also receive a pension from the government for assisting Vietnam during the war.
Nguyễn Thị Lợi &Lê Văn Sẻ had 5 children but sadly 3 have passed away. Sẻ is the eldest man in the village of Trà Quế and is very well respected.
Réhahn sees him every day, and had the pleasure to offer his book to them and they came to visit his gallery a very rare trip to Hoi An for them. This couple will always remain in Réhahn’s heart. They live peacefully in the exact same town where they were born.