It was my second time to participate in the annual Mission Trip, and this time the children of OBV Vietnam were a lot more friendly towards me than my previous trip exactly a year earlier. Since the age difference between them and myself was not big, we could relate with each other on a lot of things, and we became closer. They felt comfortable to play and tease me.
This second visit took place right after their Lunar New Year holiday, and they had just gone back to school for the new semester. Probably because they hadn't seen each other throughout the break, they were highly excited to see each other again, chirping and chatting non-stop throughout lunch. Every time I've been with them, I've immediately felt at home when I see how much they care for each other. The older girls looked after the younger girls, the younger girls looked up to their elder sisters.
With bags in on both shoulders, bags in both hands, walking barefoot in the streets....he looked like a begger.
During an evening trip on January 12th 2010, I encountered a lady – originally from Phan Rang – who left for Saigon in hopes of finding a job. She asked me for some clothes for her child to have for Tết (the Lunar New Year). I happy agreed and promised her that I would deliver the clothes to her on the evening of January 14th.
After departing ways, I felt a sort of happiness and silliness in me. A smile was on my face when I arrived home. "I haven't experienced a day as beautiful as that day..."
That's right, I haven't experienced a day as beautiful as thay day. I had yet to experience or take part in any tasks that are meaningful or fun and exciting....until that day. I kept smiling and laughing like a crazy person.
Yesterday was my last day with OBV. On my journey, I met people with big hearts, bright minds, and unique talents who have changed the lives of entire communities. I believe that crimes against children are the most heinous and that poverty, corruption, greed, and complacency are to blame. Shame on the men and women who exploit children, sell children, buy children, and commit unspeakable acts against children. The most frightening thing I learned this trip was the extreme ease of purchasing children. The realisation of how disposable they are haunts me everyday. I want to solve the problem but there has yet to be a solution. That's not to say that all hope is lost. If you could see the children we saved, their spirits, their smiles, and the unforgettable twinkle in their eyes, you would agree that this fight is worth it. Even one life is worth it. (Angela Nguyen)
Our mission group spent the morning assisting Cha Thanh to distribute rice and warm jackets to 2 rural schools in Lao Cai today. Their families are extremely poor. Their education is supported by Cha Thanh's parish. Amazing! (Angela)
I left Malaysia with mixed emotions, but mostly of sadness and sorrow. I'm overwhelmed by the tragedy that these women and children have suffered through and feel even more anguish to think of the uncertainty of time that they now face to return home. Where there is evil, there are good people like our OBV agent named T. who goes beyond her call of duty to help not only our children, but all of the trafficking victims that she encounters. She translates for them, advocates for them, cooks for them, visits them in hospital, and she even buries them when these women and children just can't fight any longer. She's a true champion and my inspiration.
I visited a trafficking victim at a local hospital today in Kuala Lumpur. She was 29 years old and she was lured to Malaysia from Vietnam with promise of good work. She was previously trafficked to Russia in 2012, but because she needed to provide for her parents and 2 young children, she accepted the risk. For 2 years she served men. She's been beaten and battered. At times she would be locked in a room for 30 men to rape her throughout the day. 4 months ago, she collapsed. She was in a coma for a week and was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Today, she was all but skin and bones and weighed a mere 33 kg. Though she didn't fully understand her condition, she was eager and hopeful to return to Vietnam to be with her family when she recovered. From her, I learned what loneliness and suffering truly is and the value of hope. The sparkle in her eye when we offered her good company, no matter how short of a time, will remain with me.
Sometimes I forget "human trafficking" doesn't just mean minors who are being moved around the world for sexual purposes.
The human trafficking industry is a $150 billion dollar industry and covers sex worker, domestic workers, laborers and (probably most horrifying) the harvesting of organs.
Yesterday we met 2 babies. I could physically feel my heart break at the thought of these two babies (a 4 month old boy, an 18-month old girl) being born solely for the purpose of having their organs taken. In fact, the baby boy had already been "booked" for his organs while his mother (a 17 year old survivor of sex trafficking) was pregnant with him. Many of us held back tears as we struggled to understand what these kids had gone through...what would cause a person to be ok with doing this to anyone else, let alone a child.
Today we met a group of women, survivors of trafficking (both sexual and domestic workers). Most were from Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. All were rescued from their deplorable 'work' environments, and are waiting for the right paperwork to go through to go home.
With the upcoming Lunar New Year, we thought lighting fire crackers and making paper lanterns would be fun for them, however this only reminded them of home, and a few of the survivors broke down in tears.
One Body Village is extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with NGO Suka, who have taught us that trafficking is a deep issue that affects the whole world, with a lot of it happening underneath our noses.
As I finish up this mission, I can only hope that we as humans can step up together to put a stop to the abuse of children, the trafficking of our fellow humans, and prove humanity is better than this.
Terima kasih Suka, sampai jumpa lagi
Today, we visited the women's protective shelter again to cook Pho for lunch. The Vietnamese women were so delighted, because they haven't tasted familiar flavours in months! While the others cooked, I gave an informal education session about hygiene and basic first aid. I knew it was successful because the women gave me all of their attention and kept asking questions. They were so grateful that I answered concerns about their health and I that discussed what was normal, what they should keep an eye on, and what needed medical attention. I wish I could do this everyday! Today, the women seemed more relaxed, at ease, and lowered their guard. They are beyond jaded because they have been deceived and abused. I am so happy that in a short two days, we have developed friendship and trust. I hope that they will make it home to their families soon. Thank you to organisations like Suka who support these women on a daily basis.
We visited one of four shelters for human trafficking survivors in Malaysia who are older than 18 (or claim to be). Of the 42 women, 23 were Vietnamese survivors of sex trafficking. Others were from India, Thailand, and China who also survived sex trafficking, as well as labour trafficking and abusive domestic servitude. We brought firecrackers and lanterns to celebrate Lunar New Year, but it only reminded the women of their homeland. They cried inconsolably as they missed their families. The women came from all walks of life with different circumstances that led them down a dark and torturous path. Along the way, they met monsters who held them captive, abused them, forced and coerced them to work and serve men in deplorable conditions. Now they wait in this protective shelter for trial and for freedom. They yearn to be reunited with their families. It's a long waiting game.
Shopping tourism has, and probably always will be, a thing. From jade markets in Beijing, coconut farms in Nha Trang, or even Woodbury Commons in NYC, it's possible for you to jump on a bus (or car or any other method of transportation such as tuk tuk), and you will dropped off to your location of desire.
Imagine then, if you enter a country where pedophile tourism is a thing. It is an ACTUALLY A THING.
You can go to these countries and a tuk tuk driver will actually deliver you to a place where you can buy a child for a night. On this trip we witnessed tuk tuk drivers actually approaching anyone who (unfortunately ) fits the profile of a pedophile and ask "you like young girl? I have! 14 year, have!! 12 year, have!"
A child of any age you want for $80 frickin bucks. A NIGHT.
It disgusts me to my very core to even imagine that some fat, hairy, sweaty, old, perverted punk of a human being is okay with doing this to a child.
From Jaxi Lin - a mission trip follower!
Today, we visited the children's shelter in Malaysia who are under protective order while waiting for trial, waiting to testify against traffickers and pimps, and waiting for paperwork to return home to their families. We met children from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Sapa (Indigenous region of Vietnam), and Myanmar. The youngest girl who was sexually exploited was 12. For the first time, we met children who were going to be exploited for their organs. There was a beautiful little Indian girl only 18 months old whose freedom was stripped from her right from birth. Her long eyelashes, her beautiful brown eyes, her angelic face and her purity did not matter to the villains who saw her as a product, as a commodity, as an animal to butcher and sell on the black market. Is there an evil greater than this?
We leave the girls today to go to Malaysia. The girls performed a traditional Cambodian dance for us last night to thank us for visiting them. It was beautiful. They are beautiful. They differ from the girls in Vietnam in the way that they are shy and reserved. They yearn for our love and attention but they do not know how to ask for it. However, like all of our children, they are so sweet, respectful, and treat one another like family. We're honored to be a part of this family. (Angela Nguyen)
We arrived in Cambodia today and immediately spent time with the children making balloons and playing with play doh. We then went to Aray Kasath, a poor riverside Vietnamese community for mass led by Father Martino. The community welcomed our visit with delight and we were honored to spend time with the villagers as well.