HOF055: NGUYEN Bui Thi Mui

On the eve of the fall of Saigon, Bui Nguyen Thi Mui was nine months pregnant and faced a harrowing decision. She could either stay and deliver her baby at an abandoned hospital without nurses nor doctors or leave and give a risky birth on a helicopter or at sea. In the chaos at the Port of Saigon, Bui, her husband, and their two-year-old boy managed to climb onto a cargo ship named the Truong Xuan which left Vietnam with almost 4,000 passengers.

The memory of captain Pham Ngoc Luy having to turn the ship around for 45 minutes to rescue a passenger who had fallen overboard by accident still moves Bui to tears to this day. After two days at sea without food nor water, Bui gave birth onboard to a baby girl as the Truong Xuan encountered engine troubles and water flooded the ship. A cargo ship called the Danish Clara Maersk answered the SOS signals and was able to rescue every single passenger. They arrived at the closest port of Hong Kong where everyone disembarked and were assigned to different refugee camps. Bui and her family would later settle in Quebec City and Montreal where they opened a pharmacy and created work for successive waves of immigrant newcomers.

Bui’s contribution to her adoptive land would later garner her many awards, including the Governor General’s Caring Award for Canada.  She is also very proud to be a leading pharmacist to train so many pharmacist immigrants to restart their professional lives in Quebec. In doing so, Bui was the 2nd woman and the first immigrant pharmacist to receive the Hygeia award from the Canadian pharmacist association in Quebec established in 1964.