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Saturday, 25 February 2017 19:34

Happiness is coming

Working for One Body Village, having a day off was a luxury that we couldn't afford. Regardless of the circumstances, date, or time, Father Martino and Mother Ngoc were there whenever the children needed help.

Mother Ngoc was sick. She had had a high fever and displayed other symptoms of the flu for over a month. She was pale, her voice was hoarse. But when I reported of a child in desperate need of help from One Body Village, she was the first to spring into action.

It was a very early morning start, yet we -- a child, her family and myself -- would not arrive to OBV's gates til the afternoon.

Her name was, ironically, Hanh Phuc (Happiness), a name her grandmother had given to her in hopes her life would be as happy as her name. She was nine years of age, had never been to school, and had never met her parents, as they had passed her on to her grandmother right after her birth. Her grandmother worked hard to raise her the best she could, even relocating to Saigon to be a domestic worker, leaving Hanh Phuc with a relative for $50 USD monthly.

One night, as she lay asleep, a drunken monster broke into their home and committed the worst crime possible. She was far too young to protect herself from him, and his threats never to tell anyone scared her into silence. The incident was only discovered when her grandmother came home and noticed some strange signs. She asked her sister -- Hanh Phuc's great aunt -- to pick her up and look after her while she worked. After a long talk and inspection of her private areas, the grand-aunt reported the case to the district police. Thankfully, the monster is now in jail, but the damage and torment it has caused to Hanh Phuc remains.

One Body Village -- the place where Hanh Phuc and her grandmother could turn to for psychological support, as well as a safe haven to live and above education. The grandmother had high hopes for her grandchild to be literate, but one major obstacle to that prevented Hanh Phuc from enrolling into school was lack of supporting documents to get her birth certificate registered. Day after day, the grandmother's anxiety grew, as the pain from her arthritis worsened, fearing that nobody could look after her grandchild.

After reading and hearing positive testimonies from families with children supported by One Body Village, from partners and sponsors of OBV and even from the local government, she finally reached out to Mother Ngoc: "Can you please help my grandchild?".

Hanh Phuc happily played with the girls of OBV, letting them do her hair, laughing, joking around. Mother Ngoc asked: "Do you want to stay here with me and your new friends, and go to school?"

"Yes. Please let me stay. I'll miss my grandma, but she said that I will be able to go to school here and have friends, so I will stay. My grandma will come and visit," her clear and naive voice touched everybody.

My darling Hanh Phuc. Now you can finally start to build 'hanh phuc' happiness for yourself. One Body Village will offer you many opportunities to build your future so that your life can finally match your name.

And as soon as I finish writing this, I'll be heading to the district authority to make sure you are properly registered not only for school, but to join our big happy family here at One Body Village.


Feb 22, 2017

Translated by Mr. Phung and Jacqueline Huynh.  The original version in Vietnamese entitled "Hạnh Phúc Sẽ Đến"

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