An old article...
We left Saigon very early in the morning aboard the PT bus. We were travelling at speeds of 100 km/h, but still would not arrive at Xuan Hung until noon. Signs were plastered throughout the bus: "For safety, this bus is running within speed limits".
Clouds floated across the grey sky, thundering down as we were about 9km from our destination. We were afraid to getting completely soaked as we had to walk the last few hundred metres from the main road into the school in the rain without rain coats or umbrellas. Luckily, as the bus pulled up, the rain became a light sprinkling. We were only a few hundred metres from the main road, yet it felt like we were wandering into a very remote area.
An old article...
The singer Hien Thuc with the children at the Anh Linh school
Just like its name, "The Sharing Connection" would always be the bridge to link the loving hearts to share love, to care for, and to bring happiness to all little people.
The year end is usually a very busy time at the center with plans for seminars, workshops, charity trips, and to complete all the unfinished businesses by the year end ... But that year was a very special year since the Sharing Connection glad to have the goodwill of a singer to bring love and happiness to the unfortunate.
In addition to the services the young doctors participate in the community health programs for the poor people in Vinh Long, the implementation of charitable programs "Sharing Connection" with the singer Hien Thuc was very practical for the less fortunate people ... The community health program provides free health care and medicines for the indigents ... the charity program of Hien Thuc provides 2000 gifts which brings joy and happiness to those less fortunate.
Delivery of Gifts for the children
The first location Bridge to Happiness selected to visit was the "Spirit of Love Light" ("Hành Trình của Yêu Thương") school with 300 elementary students. These children come from indigent families or orphans, having the unfortune life. Needless to say about the joy in their eyes when they received the gifts from or hear Hien Thuc sang the song The Mother's Diary "There will be someone who loves you more than I love you". Maternal love is the greatest love, but Hien Thuc still wants to share with the students that some day, someone would love them more than their mother love them. All our trip members share the same wish that "Everyone are deserved to be loved and be happy."
The joy of gift sharing
So we have shared 300 gifts from singer Hien Thuc to the unfortunate children, 1700 more gifts would be awarded between begining and the end of the year 2011. Beside the 2000 gifts shared by Hien Thuc, we hoped to receive more gifts from generous donors like you..
Dec 28, 2011
Translated by Tom. Original version in Vietnamese entitled 'Chương Trình Từ Thiện "Kết Nối Sẻ Chia' Cùng Ca Sĩ Hiền Thục"
During a fundraising event in support of victims of trafficking, I was walking outside in the parking lot when quite suddenly, a woman carrying a bag filled with possessions fit for a beggar crashed into me, before disappearing again like a soft breeze. Angrily I thought 'how rude!'
Later, as I entered the lobby, I saw her limping toward the door, almost crashing into me again . It was obvious that she had a disability.
Our treasurer Ms. Phuong enlightened us - This lady came to contribute to our fundraising; however, due to her working schedule, she was not able to stay for the event. I was suddenly overcome with emotion.
It was this afternoon in Sydney, with the gleaming sunlight shining upon her crooked legs as she took shaky steps, that I became overwhelmed, my eyes teared as I was so touched, and suddenly....suddenly, everything else seemed so trivial.
Thank God! Although our world is filled with hate and crime, there are still those with hearts of gold, who despite being handicapped themselves, are filled with compassion to give a hand to ease the pain of the children victims of human trafficking.
A chilly afternoon breeze suddenly blew over and aroused me back to reality and the immediate tasks at hand.
Our fundraising event was successful!
Translated by J. Huynh.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
The closer I get to girls of the OBV Vietnam house, the more privy I am to their personal stories, which in turn makes me feel that much more responsible for their safety.
It's a bitter pill to swallow when I find out that a couple of the girls are taken from or decide on their own volition to leave the OBV house, or when I hear that the father of one of the girls who sexually abused her is about to be released from prison in a year.
Here are a few updates on some of the lives of the girls of the OBV Vietnam house. Names withheld for obvious reasons, etc. etc.
Part two in a series of short stories of friends and family back home who have gone out of their way to extend their own generosity to those in need here in Vietnam.
This is a story about a small group of classmates turned friends who overhear a conversation and take it upon themselves to be awesome.
Three UW Foster MBA classmates and friends want to ensure that the OBV girls have one of the most entertaining and memorable Christmas gifts ever.
Dec 25, 2013
At the time I wrote this, it was the evening of Christmas Day, which made it the morning of Christmas Day back home in Seattle. Another Merry Christmas to our friends and family in Seattle and across all timezones. We love and miss you all.
In celebration of this spirit of giving, this is the first in a series of short stories of friends and family back home who have gone out of their way to extend their own generosity to those in need here in Vietnam. The protagonists in these stories would probably insist that their contributions were "no big deal." Nothing could be further from the truth.
Thank you to everyone mentioned in these stories, to those unnamed, and to those who continue to offer their support of our work and of OBV. However small these benefactors might think their act to be, they've made a difference in other peoples' lives.
Dec 20, 2013
On Monday, December 16, we rejoined Linh Doan, Director for OBV Cambodia, in Phnom Penh for our second mission trip. During this visit, Thuy would be taken to a Vietnamese village to provide follow-up medical consultations for and dispense medicine to the villagers she saw on her first mission trip to the country.
Dec 15, 2013
During our first One Body Village mission trip to Cambodia, Linh Doan, OBV Cambodia director, took us to two Vietnamese villages in Phnom Penh. Thuy would have a specific task on our visit to the second of the two villages: She was to see and diagnose ailments for 30 men, women, and children.
Even if you read our last blog post "New Girl Joins OBV Cambodia House, Faces Tough Decision," it's worth reminding you that these villages exist in very poor conditions. Generally speaking, these Vietnamese communities are shunned by the larger Cambodian society.
Although many Vietnamese grow up speaking both Vietnamese and Khmer, their undocumented status due to a lack of citizenship in Cambodia makes it hard for them to find proper employment. The men end up working as low-paid construction laborers. The wives take up work of their own while raising their children. The kids go to a school in their village if one is available.
For the two hours that we visited this village, Thuy would become the Vietnamese American version of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Here is what it was like for Thuy to become the doctor for the inhabitants of this village.
Our trip started like many other trips in Cambodia: We hailed a tuk tuk driver. Linh didn't know how to explain our destination in Khmer, so we had to contact someone else and give the phone to the driver for them to explain.
November 20, 2013
About once a month, OBV Vietnam organizes an awareness and prevention mission trip to areas with a high prevalence of sex trafficking and sexual abuse of children. OBV sees such outreach as a critical first step towards the reduction of child sex trafficking.
It's worth noting that OBV VN is officially a counseling and consulting company, believing that education and family counseling is key to prevention of child sex trafficking and abuse. Each trip includes seminars on parenting and child psychology, along with OBV message on sex trafficking and child abuse. With Dr. Phuong, a visiting OB/GYN, and myself on this trip, sessions on women's health and prenatal care were added to the program.
On November 15, 2013, I joined OBV on this month's trip to Ca Mau, the southern most city in Vietnam.
Our team consisted of seven members and volunteers of OBV, plus our regular driver for these kinds of road trips. On this trip was Mr. Binh, OBV VN President, Dr. Phuong Nguyen, an OB/GYN visiting from the U.S., Mr. Sy, a professor of psychology at a local university, Miss Quynh Anh, OBV's counselor who specializes in love, marriage, and family counseling, and Mr. Dang, OBV employee who lives at one of the rehab houses.
Father Nguyen Ba Thong and Mr. Nguyen Duy An, President of One Body Village, came to Houston on May 3rd, 2015 for the spring musical event, which took place at the University of Houston. Along with them were several talented, volunteer performers from California and Vietnam. The singers entertained the audience with a wonderful program that afternoon.
The entire event was devoted to raise awareness for One Body Village . Father Nguyen Ba Thong is the founder of this organization since 2008. His mission is to combat, rescue children from Southeast Asia who were forced into sex slavery and sex trafficking. One Body Village also provides homes, educational and medical assistance to the children. The attendees seemed to have a great time at the musical event; they supported the organization by purchasing t-shirts, cds. All funds go to support victims of sex trafficking in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Singapore.
In the fall, One Body Village supporters will organize a gala, dinner, dancing, auctions, raffle tickets. So, save the date: November 6, 2015. details to be forthcoming on the website: obvhouston.org.
Be a Voice, Lend a Hand, Make a Difference!
Because many many people asking the same question "how can I help" after listening to Fr. Martino's about "NAKED WITHOUT SHAME" and OBV mission, Trung Tâm Nhịp Cầu Hạnh Phúc (OBV Vietnam) organized a special off-line for those who would like to learn more about OBV Mission and ways to volunteer at 7:00pm on January 27, 2015 at 107 Pasteur Street, HCM City, Vietnam.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
When people asked me if OBV is a Catholic organization, I've always told them: "Not really."
While the founder of OBV is a Catholic priest and the girls living in rehab houses are raised by a nun, OBV work is not exclusively Catholic. Only two or three of the 18 girls currently living at OBV house in Ho Chi Minh City are Catholic.
All the girls get a Catholic education at home because OBV believes this is the best way to raise and discipline children. True enough, no matter their background or how unruly they were at the beginning, after a few months with Sister Ngoc, these girls became among the most well-behaved kids I've met.
Little C., her sister, and her grandparents
It was stormy weather in Vietnam at this time of the year. Rain fell in the mornings, in the afternoons, and at nights. Heavy rain drops fell down and mixed with her blood and tears.
After several phone conversations with the OBV volunteers, I got her address. Together with T., a volunteer, I went to her house under the heavy rain. After over 30 minutes' ride on a motorbike, T. and I were soaked with water even though each of us had a raincoat on. We had made an appointment with some local officers from a women's support agency, so upon our arrival, we found them there to accompany us to Little C's house. We would like to learn about her situation and persuade her and her family.
I am not a professional writer; however, I would like to write something about my trip to Vietnam with Dr. Nga Vu on the occasion of Father Martino Nguyen Ba-Thong's 10th anniversary of his Priesthood.
Having known Father Martino since 2009, and I have also traveled with them a few times to Vietnam. This time, I departed from Los Angeles and met Father Martino and Dr. Nga in Taipei, and the three of us flied to Vietnam together. As soon as the airplane landed, Nga and I really felt the heat of summer. We were slowly moved through the customs while Father Martino quickly passed through and preceded to the baggage claim area. When we finished with the paper work, Father Martino had gathered all luggages, ready to proceed to the car. Yen-Thao and Hien-Thuc, a famous Vietnamese singer, were waiting outside to welcome us. They took us to the "5 Tháng 2" (February 5) on Võ Văn Tần street, a very beautiful fashion shop located in District 3, and this is also the headquarter of "Nhịp Cầu Hạnh Phúc" (OBV Vietnam). I then went to lunch with Nga and Yen-Thao, stopped by Thiên Ý Spa (one of OBV's businesses) to visit employees there. I was so surprised to see a very modern and high-class spa. I never thought that Father Martino could open these businesses. It was Nga, who spent her own money for OBV to open these shops to create jobs for local people and OBV's children.