And what do I need to do on my part? A desk full of papers, the hampers overflowing with laundry that needs to be done, a kitchen that needs to be scrubbed, the thirsty house plant needs to be watered. And it's been a long time since I had the chance to sit down quietly to read a book or listen to a beautiful piece of music.
It's a been a long time... I finally feel that need for some quiet time, a little time to stop and see in the scenery around me, that the fall has returned with its familiar foliage and its cool autumn breeze.
When the fall returns, with its cool temperature, so does my pain. I've had achings in my body for years, before the age of 30. Only exercise can soothe it somewhat, and I've not exercised for a while.
However, the pain in my body does not bother me as much today, because another pain occupies my whole mind, one that cannot be soothed; a deep persistent ache that buries into one's heart.
It is the problem of children being sold into slavery in the sex industry.
It's been 2 weeks since the Be Their Voice – Hãy Nói Thay Cho Em fundraising dinner was successfully held. I am now waiting for the feedback from our friends who participated.
Today, in this peaceful moment, I want to write about some of the emotions bubbling inside me. Pouring my heart out in a page of a journal? I've already stopped doing that because I no longer wanted to keep complaining about trivial annoyances of life. What I want to write about today is not at all a trivial thing.
Closing my eyes, I think of the warm gentle memories of the dinner .
It was a very meaningful event, especially the end moment when everybody stood, turning to the stage and sang from their heart the song Bên Em Đang Có Ta (I am by Your Side) by Trầm Tử Thiêng. Love shone on their face, in their eyes.
I remember when the organizing team did not know if we would make enough to pay for the expenses, or if we would raise enough for Fr Thong to take back to VN to help the children, but we were all happy that we had achieved the most important goal, the loving atmosphere in which everyone raised his or her voice to "speak for them", for the unfortunate children who do not have the chance to speak for themselves.
This one was the second year that the event was held, I was nervous that no one was going to come, that they would think "not again, I know, I know already ". I was afraid that Be Their Voice will gradually become quiet because those who come will listen but will go home and not do anything, letting this problem be forgotten. I was so worried, "it just can't be..."
We can't let the children become like the fragile leaves falling down , nothing left to them but the crackling sounds as they get trampled under the feet of passers-by.
Yellow leaves, we will all be like that one day. One by one, we will float down to join the thousands of leaves on the ground.
But can't we do something now? While there is still sap flowing and the leaves still have some green, can't we bring to those unfortunate little ones some hope, even a fragile hope? Why don't we stand together and raise our voices, calling out to the human conscience, to save the children? Let's do something for the love of humanity.
Why would we stand coldly on the side line, watching those young innocent bodies and souls being trampled on, unable to defend themselves?
The sky is grey today, another leaf just fell. Thien Nga, the girl that Fr Thong gave a name and helped to start up a normal life after more than a decade trapped in the sex slave industry, has passed away from AIDS.
Rest in peace, little sister. You are still more fortunate than 2 little ones who will go through life with the humiliation engraved in their hearts that they may not be able to erase. The 2 little girls, barely over 10 years old, whose mother blindfolded them and sold their virginity.
After the fundraising diner, I noticed Fr Thong was much happier, the pain haunting in his heart for more than 10 years was now shared with almost 400 people present at the diner. This morning, I feel less pain, because the miserable lives of the children now weigh less on the heart of Father and of the One Body Group, because our friends, our brothers and sisters, have joined their hearts to share that weight. Certainly, their company will sooth a lot of this pain in the future as we continue on our road.
I remember today a friend who made me very happy. She lives far away from the restaurant, but hurried there after work to attend the dinner. She stayed until the last minute to thank the guests and to see them off. She was not a member of the organizing team, and she was not asked to do the work, but she happily considered it her job, and was happy to see people truly care for the unfortunate lives, because she saw that she was not the only one who felt she had to do something for the little ones.
The next day, she called me to express admiration, saying that she found our work very meaningful. She wanted to do the same, living a meaningful life, unlike all the years she had been too busy making money, not concerned with the sufferings around her. She recounted that she had called everyone that she knew to tell them about the diner. She felt that it gave her a different view of life, a life that still has so much that is worth sharing, worth caring for. This was the second time that she participated, and she will come again in the future, to listen, to understand, to lend her hand, and to add her voice in speaking for the little ones.
Yes, my friend, come! Come to join your hand with ours, to raise your voice, and let the song of love echo in the world.
Translated by KN. Original version in Vietnamese entitled "Nhật Ký: Buổi Tiệc Của Lòng Yêu Thương"