An end of the year luncheon. I was excited to see the girls again, in their own home: their own element. These four girls had been rescued from being sexually exploited, and are now living in a One Body Village home. Here they learn to live together as a family, sharing responsibilities, and also to become educated. After the trip to Vũng Tầu, we were invited over for lunch to celebrate the end of the year and the coming of the next.
The tree branches sway as a gust of sea wind hits them. The skies are murky and gray, not the best day to head to the beach. It’s about 7:30 AM and I am sitting at a table having breakfast with two very special people. I glance up, and see them looking out the window, most likely wishing and praying for sunnier weather so that we can go for a swim. I sit a moment, taking the scene in, and wonder what the future holds for these young girls. There’s no doubt in my mind that they have seen more than their fair share of gray skies and a tumultuous past.
They have lived most of their young lives forgotten, and forced to do the unspeakable. Lost and abandoned by friends and family, these girls were physically and sexually abused… forced into sex slavery. Rescued from the streets, they are currently living in a One Body Village home where they go to school, learn to share family responsibilities, and live with great role models and teachers. Now, they pray and have hope for not just sunnier skies, but a brighter future.
It was 1 AM in Saigon when I began to gather my thoughts and experiences about the Vung Tau Trip in Viet Nam. This trip allowed me to spent time with the kids and got to know the children as we stayed 2 days and 1 night together. I learned that these four girls had been abandoned by their family members emotionally and financially. They were stranded and homeless for days even though they were only adolescents. They were raped and abused while living on the streets. One Body Village Organization took these girls off the streets and had been given them a home. In the home, these girls had schedules to follow throughout the day. They got to go to school for the general education and hand-on experience with the career that fits their talents. They also learned how to cook and clean up together as a team. These children have been fighting for the bright future even with all the obstacles ahead of them.
While on the road, the girls were singing happily and loudly in the car. It was raining when we got to Vung Tau. Regardless of the gloomy weather, we had the best time ever! We put on our bathing suits and swam in the water as if the day was sunny. We were splashing water at each other and singing songs. It was joyful to see the children laughing and enjoying themselves in the water. After swimming, we went to a nearby restaurant to eat seafood. Everyone was exhausted and slept through the whole way home, except for the driver
Even though these children have the long journey ahead of them, I am glad to be part of their lives for two days. I'm proud of them for having the courage to change their lives from the past. I feel that these children are no longer lost but found. They have a family where they belong. They have the tools to accomplish their dreams. Most importantly, they have the support to be a better person for society. With continual love and motivation from One Body Village, the future for these kids can only get brighter.
More than 400 guests attended the “Awareness Dinner” at Happy Valley Restaurants in Atlanta on December 14th 2008! It was a great turn out beyond our hope and dream! Thank you guests! Again, we want to stress it was NOT a “fund raising” dinner – It was an Awareness Dinner! MC (Master of Ceremony) John Nguyen Duy-An from Arlington, VA and Father Martino kept the guests’ hearts “pounding” through out the night!
They were “entertained” with songs, skit and video clips about how children are being sold/forced into sex slavery!All left the dinner with “tears” but hope is brighter than ever!The children have another 400 “friends” who will be their VOICE!
Hope to see you all again and your friends… next year!
Blessings and Peace,
Here is a few pictures about the Awareness that I did in San Antonio this morning. Paste that link into your browser to check it out:
I was able to sell around 70+ something t-shirts and was able to raise $717.00. Chi Maily will work with the Thieu Nhi kids to come up with some awareness campaign.