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.
I was wandering near the hotel where the captain (rev. Nguyen ba Thong) stay, about to buy thing needed for our fly by night trip, while waiting for departure time (10PM) on February 2nd, 2010, suddently my cell phone rang, the person on the other end screaming:
"T return immediately. I am having a heart attack!!"
I immedately rushed back to the hotel worrying if the singer Ha Bao Thu could not find thebag of medicine weighed about a pound belonged to the captain? I wondered if she found the right medicine? Today she cancelled her various performances to follow the captain to fly by day (cooked for the children with Down syndrome in Can Gio) and tonight fly by night! Therefore, we both stay at the hotel with our captain and Dr Quoc, the Eucharistic Youth Group Leader, who the captain took along to Vietnam to take care of the captain!
At that moment, Dr Quoc just left the hotel so Thu called the Dr "Quoc, return immediately, the Father is very sick"
Yesterday was the first time I accompanied Father Thong in night "flight" to distribute gifts to street old people. And that night "flight" was successfully organized with love and left everyone's heart warmth.
We gathered at Cathedral Church waiting for Father Thong, and then we were assigned routes. Let's depart!
Journal – first day in Viet Nam!
I'm very joyful for today. I landed in Viet Nam around midnight last night. Tossing and turning all night for I couldn't sleep. 3 am, I wandered around the Ben Thanh plaza and met a man selling corn on the cob from Thai Binh. We shared a conversation about his hometown and family for almost two hours. I ate three corns. He charged me nine thousands in Viet Nam dong (about 50 cents in US dollar). I felt guilty for taking so much of his time. I offered him another 50 thousands in Viet Nam dong. He refused, indicating that he wouldn't be able to sell anything at this hour anyway, and he's delighted with our conversation for it shed him some warmth. But I insisted, for his kids. He accepted with much gratitude. He said, "I came into the South selling corn for 10 years now, and just today there is someone willingly join me for a small talk and even give me money." I was not sure how grateful he was, but I felt much joy. Thank you my brother, and thanks be to God.
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.