The Swedish woman, born in 1947, strongly supported Vietnam in its past wars against foreign invaders.
She was one of the first foreigners arriving in Hanoi in the spring of 1975 when the Ho Chi Minh campaign for southern liberation was entering its final stage. She then had the chance to share the joy with Vietnamese people celebrating the final victory.
The reason for her Vietnam visit was to see how such a small country could defeat a big imperial power. She decided to stay in Hanoi and some northern provinces for many years later.
One of the photos she took in March 1975, is captioned “the Southern advance and the powerful general offensive”, illustrating the victory of the Vietnamese Army and people on Central Highland, Binh Tri Thien, and other battlefields with facts and figures.
Eva returned to Vietnam in 1980 to study the Vietnamese language and research the country’s culture and education system. From 1986 to 1989, she managed a Swiss-funded project aimed at improving local workers’ living conditions.
From 1998 she worked as an advisor to the Asian Centre of the Stockholm Environment Institute, focusing on the influence and development of culture and society in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.
She has lived in Sweden since 2010 but visited Vietnam many times to participate in poverty reduction projects funded by the European Union (EU).
Photographer Nguyen Huu Bao highly appreciates Eva’s photography prowess. “She is an amateur, but her works look like those of a professional,” he says.
Eva has tried to capture a lot of bustling activity in Hanoi’s Old Quarter streets like Hang Ngang and Hang Dao, which are always crowds with people going shopping. Once she was lucky to see the groom and bride riding on their bicycle to the wedding party.
“It’s my hobby to take photographs and show them to my family and friends in Sweden,” she says.
She recalls some of her Tet celebrations in Hanoi when the citizens were still living in obvious want and squalor.
Painter Le Thiet Cuong, who cooperated with Eva on the photographic exhibitions in 2007 and 2011, says her photos are valuable documentary pieces telling a long story about Hanoi’s citizens and the fate of their ancient houses in the old quarter.
Eva was so attached to the beautiful S-shaped country that she named her only daughter Maria Lien. “Lien” means lotus flower in Sino-Vietnamese and is not difficult to pronounce in Swedish.
She treasures the black and white photo of herself and her three-year-old daughter with Vietnamese friends in the 1980s.
Eva’s favourite destination in Vietnam is Hanoi where she enjoys seeing the old quarter and the beautiful lakes in the centre and talking with the citizens in fluent Vietnamese.
Eva lives in Sweden but her heart is dedicated to Vietnam. She always wishes her second home would have a bright future.