an old article...
Her mom and her at OBV house
After the first home visit, and many phone calls, words of encouragement and job recommendations in the city for a mother to be closer to her daughter, the family remain stubborn as a rock. We had tried every thing, every way.... But we decided to return to this family, since we still had one ray of hope, Mr. T from a volunteer group.
Back at the family house, we continued to try and persuade them, while listening to them share their concerns with us. The grandparents didn't want the young girl leaving for the big city as they would miss her. Her uncle blamed the mother for not being responsible for caring for her and leaving her with strangers. They were all afraid rumours of them giving their child away to an orphanage might start. Patiently, Mr. T explained all the benefits if she could come live with One Body Village, and compared the education offered in the big city of Saigon compared to what was available in the quiet town of Long An. She definitely would be able to have proper education and a better living environment.
The grandparents, however, remained unshakable. The mother was very eager to have her daughter move to the big city, but at the same time, she only wished for her parents to agree and approve of the decision. The grandfather sat quietly, deep in thought as the first drops of rain started to fall from the grey sky. Finally, he allowed the mother of the little girl to decide for her future. We returned to the city in the middle of a heavy tropical storm. The rain was much heavier and followed us all the way home. The raining water flowed strong, yet couldn't flush away our worries for the future of the little girl.
The mother called me the following morning. "I don't think my daughter will move to the city. Please forgive me. My family has decided not to let her go." I bitterly remained quiet.
But she called back a short while later, and asked me whether it was too late to change her mind. Of course it was never too late, it would be our pleasure to have this little girl join us!
We welcomed her and her little girls at our office and gave them a tour of the school and our home. She repeatedly told us her life story, her failures. She hoped for her daughter to be given a good education, a brighter future. Time would prove this.
It continued to rain, from early morning through til sunset. After having lunch at the office, we made the trek to our home, to prepare a space for the newest member. We split into 2 groups: one would head to school and register her as a new student, while the other group would take mother and daughter shopping for items needed at home.
All kids love to buy things, so I asked "what did you buy at the supermarket?" upon their return.
"I didn't buy anything, just looking," she replied.
Even though all kids love candy, cookies, toys...the mother kept reminder her daughter in a low voice "you must spend your money reasonably. Never ask for anything. Mrs L. here is purchasing a lot of items for you to use at the house. She's spent a lot of money". Listening to the conversation, I pretended not to hear, and sat silently watching her reaction. Her eyes greedily looked at all the toys and candy, yet she demonstrated a great sense of self control. Before leaving, i bought 2 colourful covers for her notebooks, and a small doll made of clay to be used as a paper weight, and gave them to her...
First day of school
It was her first day of afternoon classes, and her first time ever learning a foreign language.
"How was school? Is it fun?" I asked
Yeah, a lot of fun
"Do you understand what your teacher said in the foreign language?"
No! she laughed
"Did you make any new friends?"
Yes, we bought stuff and played with them
"Well, it takes time to make lots of friends"
Her first day of school
I checked her exercise book for her foreign languages class (English), where she had remembered one single thing: Good morning.
'You'll have to try really hard when learning a foreign language," I told her
She's been with us for two days now.
I pray for a bright future for her.
Translated by Jacqueline Huynh and Mr. Phung. The original version in Vietnamese entitled "Long An - Hành Trình Không Còn Buồn"