An old article...
It was raining outside – July's specific rain – but K. and I were ready for our trip because there were lots of things to do. The new academic year was coming but identity documents of S. hadn't been confirmed yet. We had to go to her hometown to get everything ready. Besides, taking two new kids to OBV's house was also urgent because the new academic year was about to begin. (These two kids are siblings. They were abused by the same man who was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison.) There was another 15 year-old girl in Can Tho. She was abused by her stepfather. After giving birth, she left hospital in silence because she didn't have enough money to pay for her stay there.
An overnight journey brought her home to the OBV House. She was really looking forward to the day when she would live in a new environment, with no more hunger, no more fear of her mom "using" her to earn money, and not being the center of the neighborhood gossip. Her great grandmother took care of her since she was only one year old. She felt uneasy leaving her great grandmother alone, whose eyes were dim. Who would hang and stow a mosquito net for her great grandmother every night? But her great grandmother tried to put her mind at ease and encourage her: "You just do your best and study hard, that makes me happy. I will be fine."
Sister Ngoc and the new children
These days of March, project staffs of OBV went with Sister Ngoc to visit and consult 3 victims' families of child sex exploitation. A five-hundred-kilometer road trip, we had to go 3 times to be successful in persuading their families to let them live in OBV Family. Due to the specific characteristic of each area, there were only 2 children can come to OBV Family, another one will be helped by project staff to carry out the procedures because until now she did not have any personal papers to prove that she is ...Vietnamese.
If you've been following the stories on our OBV website, you'll remember the story of one of our little girl published in: A Fate Like Weed.
After many visits and dialogue exchanged with C's family, I persuaded her family to let C comes and stays at OBV home. C's family is not in a situation to provide proper care for her. C's dad is mentally ill. C's mom and her grandparents are busy making end meets. C was often found wondering the streets and highways barefeet from Can Tho to Soc Trang. The chance of C facing abused and kidnapped for sex trafficking was pretty high. Thus, I felt a great sense of relief after I brought C to live in OBV home.
Their innocent smiles when wearing new dresses
A five-year-old little girl lives with her father who works as a mechanic. Her parents had separated when she was one. Her mother could no longer endure her father's drunkenness and gambling habit so she left to go back to her village carrying with her an unborn child in her womb. Her mother works as a hired hand here and there scraping enough to support herself day by day as she lives in humiliation. As for the little girl, she lives with her father in a dilapidated and unfurnished rental unit. Her means of support is dependent on what her father brings home on that day from inflating and patching up tires for customers in the area. The little girl is five, but she doesn't get to go to school. She doesn't know any children songs or rhymes, nor does she have any toy. On a daily basis, she hangs around her father's auto shop; her toy is a rock or whatever else she might pick up.
A paradox, but the truth is often unexpected
I knew there was something wrong from the moment the little girl set foot into the OBV home. It would have been fine if she was shy or scared because of being in a new environment, but she kept on smiling to and laughing with everyone, and even ran around the house with some older children, as if she was the host herself.
Hastily roaming in a familiar Honda, I went to find you. Information about you was quite vague; I knew that you were in that area, on that road, but that road was too long. I had been going back and forth—I did not know how many times—to observe each house. The houses were very close together, the long alleys winding. Oh, how did I know where to find you when my strength was limited!
Actually, visiting families and searching young ladies who needed help were not my jobs, but I still wanted to go this trip. This trip was prepared well to get two things done. First, specialists took care training and had speeches at a middle school near the bottom of Sam Mountain (Chau Doc-An Giang-Vietnam). Second, two directors and I went to T's house according to K's direction.
Photo of the girl at district police station to report, I secretly photographed as it seemed she always bows her head
When I met her, her trembling fear of strangers kept my thinking that the incident just happened yesterday, but the fact was 7 months elapsed since the heartbreaking incident.
Her family was poorest in the province, maternal mother had blood cancer, skinny drudging figure, her father had congenital heart disease, traumatic seizure anytime. Source of family income is the 1967 old motorcycle, driving the customers to support the whole family, more hungry days than full-meal days.
Dad! Where are you? Mom! Where are you?
The children were neglected when their parents divorced, the mother moved to live with her new husband, and the father went missing with his mistress. Three siblings lived like homeless, not a caregiver, not a daily meal, they took care of themselves.
Every day the children went begging for food or "had a meal" at the benefactor's family, they took showers when it was raining and hugged each other in bedtime until their clothes dried. They hang on to live as such from day to day.