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Sunday, 01 October 2017 20:32

Diary of a Malaysian Journey (2) - Unlock The Gate and Lead The Way


On the second day of our Malaysian trip, we visited a camp for minors, who were victims of human trafficking.

On the highway that led us away from the city centre, at a speed of 100 km/h, it still took us about 90 minutes to arrive to the camp. Looking in from the outside, the camp seemed spacious and peaceful, but even the most serene backdrop could not hide the pain and sorrow that could be seen in the eyes and hearts of the residents that lived there.

After the standard check in procedure, we passed two iron gates, and a small playground. In this group, there were only 3 Vietnamese minors among a group of 25 children of all different ages. These particular 3 were the ones we were here to see. 

Just through casual conversation, we learnt that a large number of the children there were sold, before being rescued and were living there while they waited for their paperwork to be processed. Just two days ago, more than ten of them were able to return home. We didn't particularly wish to see so many Vietnamese children at this place, but on the other hand, we wanted to help as many as possible.

We had a drawing session, lead by an NGO volunteer. We met Philipina girls, and Indian immigrant mothers, only 15 or 16, huddled tightly with their children. The younger children -- 3 or 4 years old -- were easily entertained with candy, while the older girls chose to indulge themselves with color pencils. 

The Vietnamese girls broke my heart. They were 15 -16 years old, and like all teenagers, loved to make themselves up. But they had been lured into the darker world of drugs and alcohol in places like karaoke bards, massage parlors....they had been addicted to drugs, and had made a world for themselves by satisfying the needs of their customers. Yet here they were now, dumped with a group of children, colouring pictures. Creative arts, and young naive children wasn't a world that made sense to them anymore, since their youthful innocence no longer existed. They no longer had hopes. They no longer had dreams.

They have not been brought here to a foreign country by the cruelty of traffickers, but in these cases, they had been easily duped, tricked, brainwashed into thinking a better life could be in stall for them. Only to arrive in Malaysia and forced to turn to prostitution, or threatened to be killed. Instantly, any dreams they had, any sense of freedom and innocence vanished.

It was hard to have a simple conversation in this camp, surrounding by non-uniformed police officers listening in on every word. The children were happy to meet us, not only because we could speak the same language, but because they could sense that we came out of love. In order to maintain the trust of the guards, we had no choice but to keep within the boundaries and strict rules that had been set out for us.

Like all cops, the ones in Malaysia are a mix between the good and the corrupt. Were they just cops? Were they in fact the traffickers? They could've been both, and it's never easy to distinguish between the good guys from the bad guys.

Our visiting hour eventually came to an end. The gates closed behind us as we left, and my heart filled up with sadness as I turned away from them. They knew that any visitor that came would leave, while they remained in the camp, their dreams of the future covered by barbed wires. 

The noise on the streets jolted be back to reality. These kids that had been sold and moved from country to country, living in and out of brothels....they put their trust in us, hoping that would could help them and return them to Vietnam where they would be able to reform and start a new, honest life. They also knew that what we do is dangerous. These were kids who had fallen prey to false promises. Promises and words that would leave them relying on their pimps and traffickers to survive. As soon as their belief in their masters broke, their spirits also broke and many commit suicide. 

A victim, treated in hospital. She was support by OBV, but eventually couldn't escape her own demons and committed suicide

Who would be there to help them reform their lives?

Which one of these girls would open their hearts and cooperate with us, and allow us to lead them on a journey that would provide a brighter future????

OBV Vietnam

H.N August 15 2017

Translated by Mr. Phung and Jacqueline Huynh.  The original version in Vietnamese entitled "Nhật Ký Malay (part 2): Mở Khóa Và Mở Đường"

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