Shashi Tharoor recounted his experience:
"When I joined it (UNHCR) was a small organization. But soon the Vietnamese boat people crisis erupted, the Soviets marched into Afghanistan, there was a coup in Nicaragua and a deadly famine in Ethiopia.” Tharoor, who was assigned to head the Singapore office at the age of 25, had to handle the Vietnamese boat people and set up a refugee camp.
"The refugees were leaving in tiny boats from Vietnam and were being rescued by big ships and brought into the port in Singapore." Tharoor hasn’t forgotten the sight of a family with two babies who arrived barely able to stand on their feet. “They had run out of food and water. To enable their children to survive the parents had made several small nicks on their fingers so that the babies could suck the blood." A few months later Tharoor was able to relocate them to the US and enable them to begin new lives.
"It was an amazing experience. I knew I had made a difference to many lives. It matured me as a person."