From January 2015 – OBV will post some of our DAILY activities (especially our children) on our website! Please follow them – to see how they grow! Thank you for being part of our children’s lives!
As any other families, OBV children are expected to do the house chores.
Well dressed this morning, my heart pounded in my chest as i waited for a bus to go home after a business trip. The Lunar New Year songs could be heard every where through the cold rain showers of Spring. Busloads of passengers rushed to Saigon so they could finish their rounds, picking up passengers who wanted to go home to celebrate New Year in their home town of Buon Me. I looked around but couldn't see the bus I had booked. I started to worry. Would I miss the bus?
I thought back to the joyful trips OBV had recently been on -- or our 'Happy' trip, as named by Miss Hien, a reported from a Women's magazine. But sometimes in life, we do miss a passenger, as so it happened yesterday.
I had a dream of picking up a girl, H. Uyn, to bring home to our OBV family. Since the day I met her, not a day went by where I didn't think of her. It was like to know her, to help her...it was fate.
It had been a hard day for our group, to make a home visit. After travelling over 100km from the mountainous city of Dak Lak to Ea Kiet, we had to walk for the whole morning, over hills, pass springs and red muddy land, to finally reach the home of a family of 2 victims of a minority group. This part alone, if you could believe it, was the easier part to deal with. The other part was the fact that a foster father had married his daughter. There was also the barrier of cultures and languages, as the community here spoke their own dialect. But we pushed on, refusing to give up and be powerless to help these girls.
A true story of an 8 year old girl being sexually abused by her father. Instead of keeping her innocence, her joy of life, and naivety, her life turned dark and miserable. She no longer trusted anyone, couldn't see the beauty of life any more. "If there are fairies, or Gods...why do they not look upon and protect me?"
She was given a tour of OBV - a charity organisation focused on rescuing and raising children of sexual abuse - so that she could make a decision.
She was a 7 year old child at the time, from a minority village in the West. She lived with her mother in a small wooden hut on a hillside of the mountainous province. It took a long, winding trail carved into the hillside, through a coffee plantation, a jungle and across a small spring to get to her hut. It took her about 45 minutes for her to get to school.
Her path to go to school daily
Finally, we could lie down after a long day working with our partners in the media, as well as arranging to visit two homes. What a long day!
How could I ever comprehend or fathom that this had even happened? That two girls in the same village were raped by their own biological fathers. One girl and her mother were oblivious to the fact until the young child was pregnant. The other girl was 9 years of age, and bravely reported her father since she couldn't summit to being her father's sex slave. Her accusation shocked the entire village. She was forced to eventually drop out of school, humiliated, miserable and living a painful life in another village far away from the place which haunts her. She lives with her uncle, awaiting the trial of her father.
Seeing the agony in their bright and naive eyes broke my heart. How could a nine year old girl live with such suffering? Her mother had passed away when she was six years old. The following four years saw her being a sex slave to her father.
What does her future hold? What role must I play to make her life better? We had scheduled for another few cases tomorrow, and I couldn't help but wonder...would my heart be strong enough?
Translated by Mr. Phung and Jacqueline Huynh. The original version in Vietnamese entitled "Nhật Ký Hành Trình Dak Lak - Phần 2: Chút Ghi Chú Ngày Muộn"
The media tour to Dak Lak was planned a month ago, but the schedule was modified at the last minute, due to many reasons and troubles. This resulted in the OBV-VN family spending countless hours working hard before their departure to ensure the trip would go as smoothly as possible. It was a new project for us, and we were excited to be involved.
We loaded into our 16-seat mini bus, and departed in the early morning at 5:00am, October 21st, 2016, making the long journey a bit more bearable with stories, songs and interesting stories. With us were OBV staff, our director and a female reporter who had worked with victims of pedophilia.
We arrived in the city of Buon Me Thuot in the afternoon, quickly scoffed down a late lunch and attended a conference held at Nguyen Du high school. The topic covered was how to protect children from pedophiles, with over 900 students participating. With our own in-house psychologist Nguyen Ngoc Duy presenting, our trip was off to a good start.
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!
This is a story of a lady, whose 9 year old daughter was raped by her biological father. She herself has a victim of domestic violence so bad that she was now deaf and often confused. She raised her daughter alone. Growing up, she had been a servant for a nice family, and sent her hard earned money to her mother in the countryside. Reaching the age of consent, she lived with a man, but they didn't marry until their daughter was 3 years old. She continued to work as a servant for her husband's family, who treated her poorly.
an old article...
After the online psychology lesson on Thursday mornings, at 11:00 some staff of OBV and Nhip cau Hanh Phuc organization moved to the new place for preparation.
That morning, I asked Liem and Phuong, two collaborators of OBV for their help with some “logistics”. For my part, I stayed at the office to welcome Mr. Thinh, Mr. Quyen and Father Giuse Hoang Quan who would come and bless OBV. Father arrived late for he had had a regular training this morning for priests in the diocese at the Court of Archbishop ...
This summer, beyond the usual activities and picnics, the children had other plans at home.
Some on them, in highschool, started studying their new subjects, while the rest of them reviewed what they had learnt the previous year. OBV'S House Mother created a schedule for them to include learning cross stitch, musical instruments, painting and other handicrafts. They had opportunities to bake a variety of cakes as well as create their own new dishes. All this happened while the skies were dark with rain clouds, and Saigon went under water a few times from the storms.
It wasn't an easy trip: a bus ride, a motorbike taxi, a short trek....we were still able to reach Miss T. A child of 13 years old, porcelain features with a slight developmental delay that had recently become victim of sexual abuse...an easy target to the predators of her neighborhood.