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.
It was another Sunday morning with no rest for the wicked. With a special invitation for the father of the Parish, OBV's psychology team headed out to give another seminar on the "Prevention of child sex abuse", to over 600 of the youth at the Parish of Tan Phuoc in Tan Binh Saigon. With such a big group ranging in different age groups, we decided it was necessary to split us the seminar into 2 Sundays: 2/10 and 9/10.
Like every other holiday so far, this year Halloween was during a weekday, and as a result OBV in district 9 decided to celebrate early, on Sunday Oct 20 - Halloween eve.
Compared to previous year, this year's halloween was not as pumping, we didn't carve any pumpkins or make any 'spirit cakes', but we were still able to celebrate in different ways: with games and team building exercises. Split into three groups, they were put through a trivia test with the topic focusing on halloween such as ghosts and ghouls, spirits, horror murder stories etc. They very much enjoyed this activity, despite only knowing the more 'famous' ghost stories and legends.
The first Friday of every month sees the girls of OBV VN settling in for a session with our team of social workers, to learn 'life skills' that may further the quality of their every day lives. The topic for the session in October was "Helpful hints to using Facebook and the Internet", a topic that was eagerly welcomed by all the girls as their access to the internet is quite limited in comparison to others. The girls participated in all the conversation topics with enthusiasm, followed by a Question and Answer segment where they bombarded Duy with question after question.
The Mid-Autumn festival this year unfortunately fell on the same day as a level 4 hurricane, and so all plans to walk through the streets with our lanterns were cancelled. However, we compensated by having a bit of a mini-party within the safety of our OBV home, and at our local parish.
Our in-house party was held 5 days before the actual festival, with 2 of our social workers organizing games and bonding activities for the girls. While making the traditional lanterns, as well as during all the games, there were some sneaky exercises and activities played with the intention of discovery the psyche behind the girls' thinking....you can't take the psychology out of trained social workers! It was a nice and relaxing evening for everyone
The beginning of the new school year started with an event that touched the lives of all our girls. OBV Cambodia had an appointment to visit the Home of Hope shelter, founded and ran by the Missionary Charity of Brothers - Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The girls were excited to be involved in such a special day, despite knowing full well that by the end of it, they would be exhausted.
It was still very early in the morning, when the older girls of the house woke up to begin their day. Immediately, they asked to be split up into groups, however this time, instead of splitting up the girls, we decided to engage them in a team building exercise: to work in one big group and divide the tasks among themselves. Some of the duties involved cooking lunch for the children, cleaning and tidying the area, bathing the children and the elderly. A few of the girls pulled faces upon hearing this, as they had wanted to team off into their age groups, but all was forgotten once they boarded the tuk tuk.
You've been with us for over a month now, and when we ask you what your biggest hopes and dreams are, you reply earnestly that you'd like to go back to school. 16 years old with a grade 3 education. We can't meet up with your parents, as it'll only bring danger and further troubles for you: your father can abuse your further, your mother does not have the capabilities to protect you, your risk of abuse and being sold is extremely high. And you don't have a single piece of identification....how can we help you?
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!
We have not been on summer vacation yet; however we have a lot of summer fun here with indoor games after the final exams
Balloon popping game makes us laugh like crazy when each two of us face to face and pop balloons as quickly as we can
Needless to say, the game “bring the bride home” was even more awesome. This really has been the most hilarious game ever
Well. we do not have a sandy beach or spacious playground but we do have a wonderful time to play and to relax. So joy and happiness are also things we can create by ourselves and under all circumstances.
The rainy season finally hit us, washing away the harsh, searing heat of Summer in Phnom Penh, bringing along with it heavy rain.
And you've been waiting and begging for a 'rain bath', since last rainy season. You guys have tried every trick in the book, every promise of good behavior, pleading and prodding to persuade me. But so far, I've had to say no...after all, I wouldn't want for you all to catch a cold.
It's another day today. I'm here trying to finish my work, and you've all just woken up from your afternoon nap. Slowly you all plod down the stairs, hair messy, eyes half-closed, minds not fully awake. It's been raining for a few hours now....poking my head out, I can see several of the neighborhood kids dancing in the rain in their diapers, under the watchful eyes of their parents or grandparents. It suddenly brought back old memories of my own childhood...and with the help of NM needling me, I finally gave in and allowed you to do the summer rain dance. The cries of joy could've been heard from the next block over.