Entering the dormitory at the end of the day, watching shadows bounce off the walls, I couldn't see see anything at first, but I could hear her greeting -- a little girl that I had picked up last week. The clear voice came from a small figure with a joyful smile.
Her life had been nothing.
One thing after another
Adding to her grief
A father who rejected her at birth.
Muong La was her nick name given by sisters, half out of love, half out of teasing.
She had been living in the OBV house for four months now. She integrated herself quite quickly and became and new loving sister. She was happy and she cared for those around her, always ready to lend a hand to her sisters. She lived to the tune and spirit of OBV. Besides these positives, she of course doubted herself from time to time, but was told not to worry, and to simply work on the weaknesses she felt needed improving, with OBV as her companion.
She was a little child, whose story made us cry non-stop for most of our trip to Malaysia. She had been there for two years, and in those two years, she had made new friends, but had also seen the same friends go home while she remained in a foreign country. Her hopes to return home had long evaporated since she had lost all of her personal documents and identification. She was excited to receive the good news that she was finally able to return to her motherland.
Welcome back! And now we begin the journey for you to rediscover your self value and worth.
April 13, 2017
Translated by Jacqueline Huynh and Mr. Phung. The Vietnamese original version in FB of NCHP
At 6.30am, from our office in District 3, a group of 5 people boarded our minibus of 17 seats and started the long journey to Vinh Long. Along the way, we picked up a columnist for a local newspaper, whose articles featured stories about Life and Law.
We made it to a brick kiln, where we met a little girl of 11 years old, and her grandmother, both crouched in a small room. Her grandfather and father had both been incarcerated. She was one of the lucky ones, who would be picked up to join the OBV family in Saigon.
Taking the girls in the warm shelter to the bicycle shop to buy a new one
After coming back from Tay Ninh Province Department of Education and Training, we prepared for T. to go to the city and went to the Department of Education and Training in Ho Chi Minh City to finish her formality to move to the new school.
Two days after sending her documents to the department, we were called to add temporary residence certificate for T. Coming to the ward office to ask for that, I was told to come to area office at night. At 20:00, I went there, all the police had gone for their work and weren’t there. I asked the police we met in the morning and were told to buy a temporary residence notebook and leave it there; whenever the police come back, they will sign the notebook (if he had told me about that when I first met him to ask for the temporary residence document, I wouldn’t have to go there several times)
After confirming that the principal of Nguyen Van Troi Hig¬h School had come back after his trip, I phoned an OBV’s worker, asking to go with me to Tay Ninh to finish the formality for attending a new school for NT. How lucky it was that that friend got a day off, so we went to Tay Ninh together.
We departed on 7:30 A.M. I almost forgot to bring along my camera to take photos during the trip.
It seemed to be sunnier than last time, but it wasn’t too hot. We were going on the streets with green rice fields on both sides. It made us feel pleasant to enjoy the sight. Suddenly, my partner saw a peaceful sight: a stork standing on a buffalo. My partner told me to stop for a little while to take a photo of that great moment.
Her old school…
After leaving Tay Ninh, we moved to the next part of our journey directly. That was searching for a high school for T. to study at. Thanks to prayers of lots of people, we found out a high school in Sai Gon that agreed to receive her. But because she was in grade 10, formality to attend a new school was difficult.
After coming to ask at the Department of Education and Training in Ho Chi Minh City, I was told to ask for a permission letter given by a Principal of a high school in Ho Chi Minh City, and then a recommendation letter from the Principal of the school the girl was studying at. I went to the Department of Education and Training in Tay Ninh Province along with all of the documents about her educational progress to ask for permission to let her study in Ho Chi Minh City.
We got to know about a poor girl’s story in Tay Ninh by reading newspaper. She was abused by her father. Her suffering was known when her pregnancy was in its 5th month. After searching for important information, our group of four people from OBV and The Bridge To Happiness Center (Yen Thao, The Khanh, Thanh Linh and Pham Sy) was on the way to Tay Ninh directly.
We got to An Suong bus station at 8:00 A.M with breakfast of bread and soy milk. After being advised by the ticket selling service, we decided to get on a 25-seat bus. But all of us were very worried because this was our first time to be there. We didn’t know the way to go there. We were afraid of getting lost or getting off at the wrong place. But we had no way to play it now. So we just did the best, and let God do the rest.
We departed at 8:30 A.M. but there were still some untaken seats on the bus so the drivers kept the bus running around almost 30 minutes to get more customers. Sy and I were sitting on the last bench of seats so I was thinking about a picture of too many people getting on this bus.
We were like on a horse, going up and down, during 2-hour trip until we got there safely. Thank God!
We got there!
OBV just welcome our newest addition to the family, from a province far, far away. It took the family days to make the journey to us, with the child having only been sexually abused not so long before that.
The child and her family all came together to visit OBV, with the purpose being to understand the work we do, and the kind of life provided to survivors of abuse. OBV was quite stunned looking at this child: a tiny frame with unsteady legs. Stained clothes, and sad eyes staring blankly that much reminded us of another survivor we had taken under our wing only 2 years earlier. The family, in turn, were equally stunned, for they had never imagined that a safe haven for young victims of abuse existed, and they immediately and wholeheartedly expressed their wishes to have their daughter raised and nurtured here. The child, despite knowing she'd be far away from her family could also sense that she'd be safer and happier here, and agreed to stay without any protest.
A long day...a very long day filled with so many emotions, when we take you back to your village to see your mother....
There is so much I want to write, but at the same time, I'm overcome with emotion. Is this right? Wrong? Are we doing the right thing? are we not?
We're lucky to have a lawyer with us. whose dedication and perseverance has helped us, without whom we would've been stuck at what was seemingly a dead end. Our OBV family thanks you!