MyHeritage: A Saigon story

MyHeritage members live around the world. Here’s one member’s story!

Now a Melbourne, Australia resident, Nghia (Neil) Huynh was born in Saigon, Vietnam.

The youngest of eight children, he is 54. His parents – from Bien Hoa and Di An – had lived in Saigon since the early 1940s. His father was a civil servant in the old South Vietnam government, and his mother took care of their large family.

Neil's family
Neil's family: His parents (from left), Huynh Thang Nhut and Dinh Thi Quyen; sisters Huynh Thi Xuan Hoang, Huynh Thi Xuan Ha; brother, Huynh Thang Toan.

Neil grew up and attended school in the city while the Vietnam War was escalating, and was in year 12 when the city fell. His father was sent to a “re-education” camp, while Neil struggled to continue his university studies during that difficult period.

I finally graduated and immediately decided to escape the country. I was strongly discriminated against by the regime because of my political background. In 1979, I escaped by boat and reached a Malaysian refugee camp. Accepted by the Australian government under the humanitarian category, I settled in Melbourne in 1980.

Neil studied information technology and had his first IT job in 1986, working in the field since then. Today, he manages a small travel industry business. He is married and has two children, 25 and 16.

Although he has lived away from his roots in Vietnam for more than 30 years, he recently returned and reconnected with family members, who provided a vast amount of data about their family. Neil became so interested that he decided to create a family tree.

Through his family investigation, he discovered that:

My paternal great-grandfather was a Chinese national, who migrated from China to central Vietnam, then South Vietnam (Bien Hoa and Di An). Most of the information is still scattered and unclear. Thus it is my desire to investigate further.

Neil's grandparents
Neil's paternal grandparents (from left): Nguyen Thi Chieu and Huynh Van Tai.

In February 2012, he began searching for a platform on which to build his family tree and discovered MyHeritage.

The site is very good. It has given me and my family much more than what we asked for.

Neil’s family is involved in his research and are members of his MyHeritage family site, which has helped in many ways, particularly communication between family members and sharing of information, documents and photos.

Currently, he has 285 people in his tree; they live around the world (in Australia, Vietnam, Europe and the USA). He has not yet looked at SmartMatches.

Neil writes that he has found many long lost relatives. At the beginning, it was simple word of mouth that connected people, and then via the website, where everyone could access and share information. He shared a story about his cousin Hien:

Hien is my cousin, but we have not seen each other for 40 years. Another cousin, an active family site member, sent an invitation to Hien. Since then, we have emailed each other. I was stunned to see his uploaded photo – after so many years – on our family site.

Here’s a tip from Neil for those who are just beginning a family project:

Make a small start first and then expand it gradually by attracting more members

Congratulations to Neil for bringing his family together from around the world, and we thank him for sharing his story.

We’d love to hear your unique story of how you became interested in family history and how your MyHeritage family site has helped further your research.

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  • Chris G

    May 26, 2012

    This is a good idea, as now i can use this story which i enjoyed reading as a template to build my own family story. what brought me to this sight is the facial recognition very useful with photos.

    the only thing i do not like is every time i go to search it takes me straight to people in America, is there a setting i have missed all my relations are in England/australia

  • Mavis zackeresen

    December 10, 2013

    Hi Chris, Yes I find exactly the same thing. Half my Ancestors come from England and I find it no good for research for that country. May come in soon, I hope, as that is the country needed NOW…..

  • Mavis Zackeresen.

    November 17, 2014

    Have just now asked for a certain person in England and it came up without going into USA etc. Thank Heaven. Very thankful.