What has always encouraged a Swedish woman to learn about Vietnam is how could such a small country defeat a powerful nation.
Eva Lindskog is a Swedish sociologist and can speak Vietnamese like a Vietnamese person. For a few decades, she has been in Vietnam and getting involved in a number of social and poverty reduction projects for local people.
Vietnam – strange attraction
Eva Lindskog was born in 1947 in Sweden. She actively took part in the movement to support Vietnam’s struggle against American imperialists.
She was the first foreigner to set foot in Hanoi in spring 1975 when the Spring 1975 general offensive campaign entered its final phase. She witnessed the jubilant atmosphere of national unification and has been deeply attached to Vietnamese ever since.
She stayed in Hanoi and northern provinces for several years and took many photos of Vietnamese people in the heroic struggle until final victory. One photo taken in March 1975 showed people watching a map of the general offensive with the army and people advancing on all fronts from Tay Nguyen to Binh Tri Thien to the Southern region.
She returned to Vietnam in 1980 to study the Vietnamese language, culture and educational system. She was in charge of a project to improve living conditions for workers at the Bai Bang Paper Mill (a joint venture project between the Vietnamese and Swedish Governments) from 1986-1989.
She was a consultant at the Stockholm Environment Institute – Asian Centre in Sweden on the impact of social and cultural development in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand from 1998 to 2010.
She returned to Vietnam several times in 2011 when taking part in some European Union poverty reduction projects.
Vietnam in pictures
Sociologist Eva Lindskog has a valuable collection of photos taken in Hanoi and northern rural areas in 1975-1980.
Strolling around Hanoi, Eva was impressed by many activities such as Tet goods kiosks, crowded carriages, a public entertainment site at a festival and a wedding in which the groom carried the bride by bike. She recalled that in the state-subsidized period, people had to buy food with stamps and Hang Ngang and Hang Dao streets were almost deserted except for a few bicycles and pedestrians.
Painter Le Thiet Cuong said he first met Eva at his personal exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City. Eva collected his pictures and statues. After that exhibit, their similar concept of photographic aesthetics encouraged them to organise exhibitions together, including “Vietnam 80-00” in 2007 and “remaining and losses” in February 2011.
Photos which Eva took as her personal documents became valuable when introduced to the public. They told a long story about immigrants and the destiny of families living in Hanoi’s old quarters.
She named her sole daughter Maria Lien which means “lotus”. She has kept a black and white photo of herself, her three-year old daughter and some Vietnamese friends taken the 1980s.
Eva has visited many provinces across the S-shaped country, but she loves Hanoi most. She likes the old quarter and its living style. She often strolls along Thanh Nien Road lined by green trees to enjoy the fresh atmosphere. She considers Hanoi her “homeland” although she spent 13 years in Ho Chi Minh City.
Now living in Sweden with relatives, she says she has missed Vietnam a lot if she is still healthy she will engage in some projects related to have the chance to come back to her second home country.