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.
Child exploitation continues to frequent our news.....
What can we do to reduce or even eliminate this shameful practice that pains us all?
Whenever this happens in these areas, who ever expects it?
There is only one way and that is to teach children to self protect themselves, as we are not always there by their side.
We must have proper talks with them and show them the very basics of what abuse is.
We must put in all our efforts because this could happen to any child, including our own.
It has been four months since you came to become a member of our OBV home; you are innocent like any other little girls I have ever seen. The day I picked you from your village, all personal information I got about you were nothing except the name CL (without last name), 10 year olds and in grade 1 for 3 years on a floating school organized by the church.
In term of legality, you don’t even exist in the world because of not having any identification papers. In the situation that the authority are tightly controlling the procedures of granting those kinds of papers, we have less chance to get you the legal papers and this means you cannot go to school. The first month you stayed at home with Ms. H. and N., you looked miserable especially during school time when you saw your sisters busy preparing for going to school.
We managed to teach you at home by ourselves and at the same time tried to apply you to the school by all means. The principal of your sisters school still said “No” to your case until we begged him to let you in even just paying for your study, no need to get official school certificates or records.
Your sisters are also patient to teach you after their school time
Last week our girl had an honor to welcome special guests - The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Bangkok, Thailand leading by Father Chatsirey. I was not home at that time and I absolutely amazed when got back and read the comments they left in our visit log book that they had a very good time to come to visit our girls at OBV and thanked the girls for their warmest welcome with a good preparation for greeting and especially for the dancing was meaningful.
The girls are changing, from being introverts, they are reaching out now, they laugh a lot, they are more friendly and actually ready for engaging with another, not just like before, only sat in a stony figure and mumbled "Yes" or "No" to adult's questions.
Thank you for visiting us and wishing our girls a beautiful life granted by our Loving God, thank you for your prayers always to encourage us to keep moving and keep changing to become good members of the Church and of community.
morning, the 12th of June, our social work from One Body Village gave some rather exciting seminars to the youth group of the diocese of Mai Khoi in Saigon, covering topics of how to prevent child sex abuse.
It was a particularly special event, as not one did the children partake, but parents of the children came along, and if there were any younger sinblings, they too joined in on the session.
On the night of , and the morning of , where, with the collaboration of volunteers, workers and associates, we held two seminars for the Vietnamese Scouts and their parents About 30 children and parents attended the first session in Ba Ria, and a further 40 participants joined us at Chanh Phu Hoa to learn more about the prevention of abuse to children.
Despite the long distance travelled, and despite only a small number of participants, we were all still very willing to take the time to share stories and experiences with these youths and their parents, so that they may protect themselves. Thank you to the enthusiasm of all our volunteers and collborators who helped us organize and run these events.
Translated by Jacqueline Huynh. Original version in Vietnamese entitled:"Nói chuyện chuyên đề ở Bà Rịa- Bình Dương"