CAMPAIGN AGAINST  CHILD SEX EXPLOITATION AND TRAFFICKING

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Reflection of Mission Trip

Every year, Father Martino Nguyễn Bá Thông leads mission trips to Vietnam, Cambodia, and other Southeast Asia countries (such as Laos, Singapore or Malaysia...) entitled "Lend A Hand." Father Thông reminds all the participants that the purpose of the mission "is not DOING but LEARNING. When you are on the mission you don't do a lot! I want you to open your heart, mind, ears, and eyes to feel, live, listen, see and learn. The DOING begins when you return home to your own country. You can talk about OBV mission and works with passion, so you can be the VOICE and the HAND of the many children being sold and forced into sex exploitation and trafficking!"
 
Below are some of their reflections.
Sunday, 14 April 2013 17:00

Boat and Sea

Daddy Thong, OBV children and the Volunteers frolicking on the beach

 

Dear Daddy and the volunteers,

 

After the trip, Mom N. told us to write a reflection. Actually we were afraid of doing this not because we didn’t have any feelings but we had too much feelings that we didn’t know how to write. Daddy and Mom, please don’t laugh at us when reading this.

 

Daddy, you are very busy with your business but you didn’t forget your promise with us six months ago. You said you would take us to the beach on holiday. This time you came home with the volunteers and brought us lots of love and happiness. We couldn’t say anything but thank you all.

Monday, 25 March 2013 17:04

Life lessons

Here we are at the central market in Phomn Penh. Father Martino is taking M., D., and G., to Singapore the following day on January 20th to have paperwork done in order to facilitate their potential future studies in the USA. It would be their first time in Cambodia, first time on a plane, first time in a big, beautiful city like Singapore. Life wasn't always so grand and spectacular for these girls.

Thursday, 21 March 2013 16:57

Kilometre 11

Buying sex with a 12-year-old girl in Cambodia takes less time and effort than paying for a telephone bill. For $1 USD, a shady motorbike will take you on a 20 minute ride up the haphazard highway north of Phnom Penh to the dark and grim village of Svay Pak. Also known as Kilometre 11 or K11 (11 kilometers from Phnom Penh), Svay Pak is internationally famous for its tainted collection of shanties, brothels, and karaoke bars that exploit young Vietnamese and Cambodian women, and children as young as five

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 18:58

Angels on Earth

An imaginary black cloud hovered over my head as I gathered the sights and sounds of suffering and despair of the past few days. However, where there is bad, there must be good. Amidst all this anguish and misfortune, there are angels who shine a rays of hope for all of us. I can't forget about Father Tuan of Can Tho who dedicates his life and medical skills to those whom society has casted aside as not worthy. 

Thursday, 07 March 2013 16:33

Beneath the surface

We visited a rural village further inland from the docks. If the church is this small and unkempt, then you know that the people are poor

 

Cambodia is deceiving. Hidden in the shadows of its vibrant city streets, modern architecture, eclectic culture, and majestic mosques is the discrimination and enslavement of Vietnamese people. Worse, the diseased tradition of trafficking Vietnamese women and children. Pitted from generations of hate and antagonism towards the Vietnamese government for exerting control and influence as early as the 13th century, the Cambodian government and its people directly disfavors the Vietnamese. 

Thursday, 28 February 2013 17:08

The last supper

Father Martino and volunteers with OBV children

After a couple days in Can Tho connecting with the local church community, we head back to Saigon for a BBQ with the girls. It would be the last time we would see them. I carried mixed emotions on the bus ride back to Saigon. On one side I was super excited to see the girls again, on the other side I dreaded the inevitable bittersweet goodbyes at the end of the night. We all know I'm an emotional person! 

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 17:01

Say a little prayer for me

Rows upon rows of bicycles - only the best way to get around!

We parted with the girls (but not for the last time!) to venture south of Saigon to Can Tho. Can Tho is the fifth largest city in Vietnam, and the largest city in the Mekong Delta. It is noted for its floating market, rice-paper-making-village, and picturesque rural canals (yes, I quoted Wikipedia). Of course, Wikipedia failed to mention mucky, desolate, down-and-out rural villages of Can Tho. Our shuttle bus barely traversed the bridges in fear of their collapse! 

 

Monday, 25 February 2013 17:12

Life's beach

D. and C.L. approaching the beach for the first time

 

Well, life isn't always so. But today, the girls experienced a life so beautiful and grand. Generously sponsored by one of OBV's partners, we took the girls to a private beach resort from January 11-12. Many of them have never seen an ocean before! Others have never been in a hotel. None have experienced such fun and luxury. It was a joy for us to see the girls so happy and carefree. They were able to be and act like real children. The sparkle in their eyes shone so bright that I had forgotten their past. 

Thursday, 21 February 2013 15:27

Family matters

 

The purpose of this mission trip was to SEE, HEAR, LEARN about our surroundings, from rural villages to urban hotspots, in order for us to understand the situation in Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam and Cambodia. Not only did we dig deeper into the human sex trafficking issue, but through conversations with local were we able to understand other important problems like extreme poverty, human rights violations, and social marginalization and discrimination of Vietnamese people. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013 17:49

Setting the stage

I met the girls for the first time yesterday. But before I get into that, I have to share with you a heartfelt story. I woke up in the hotel yesterday morning and logged into Facebook as part of my addictive daily routine. I see a post by Father Martino announcing that he just rescued a young girl who was trafficked to Singapore. I thought to myself, "Wow, what an incredible story to kick start my mission with OBV". I went downstairs to have breakfast with the group and sitting across from me was the same girl that Father Martino mentioned in his post. My heart dropped into my gut. She's beautiful. Her hair is long but tattered. Her skin is soft. Her face is gentle. She's quiet.