Tram with OBV children
It all started with an email from Cha Thong.
And there I am, nestled in the back of a Pandan-scented Vinasun taxi in the heart of a humid, grey Saigon, awaiting my arrival to the One Body Village home. The taxi pulls up to a seafoam-stained building in a narrow alleyway void of any signs or windows. My heart pounds against my ribcage, breaking the steady ambiance of the afternoon.
As I walk through the white gates, Loan, the one who coordinated my visit to the One Body Village home, approaches with arms ajar and a sunshine smile. The high building walls suddenly wash away. I am entering a place of love.
I want to share with you the people I met that day at the One Body Village home and what they have taught me. I hope that halfway across the world, this story will bring you closer to them as it has for me.
From: Angela Nguyen
To: Lm Martino Nguyễn Bá Thông
Subject: OBV Calgary Awareness Night May 4, 2012
Here are some pictures from Calgary's first awareness event on May 4, 2012! We joined the University of Calgary's Vietnamese Students' Association (VSA) and their year end gala called, "A New Beginning" to raise awareness about OBV and human trafficking. Their theme "A New Beginning" celebrated our parents' and grandparents' struggle to come to Canada to provide the new generation with opportunities for freedom and success. So fittingly, I made aware that not every one has this opportunity. It was a great success!
Doctor N and OBV children are in a tutoring session
I was really impressed with doctor N’s youthfulness, humility, friendliness and cheerfulness. When doctor visited the OBV children, she was so friendly that we felt her like our family member. Furthermore, she was really passionate and concerned with the children through various ways. Her spiritual medicine gift originated from her heart and social involvement. May I call her “spiritual doctor?”
My dearest grandchildren,
Thank you for sending me your fishing trip pictures. It looked so delightful and positively envious. I wish I could join you for such an exciting outing. However, there's always next time. I promise you if chance permits, we will take a tour to the cloudy city of Da Lat.
OBV children learned to make jewelry
She comes to meet us again after a long time apart. By the time K arrived in Vietnam, she already eagerly has plans for the children of OBV. With so much excitement and love as we saw each other, thank you K so much for still remembering each and every child of OBV’s names even when she has not seen them in a year.
As promised, each year K would come back and works closely with OBV for a month, a long month with hard and tough volunteer works. “You suddenly come and left… we all noticed”, but, as always, we can’t never avoid having a hard time of saying goodbye.
The girls was playing basket ball - a gift from Dr. Duong Hoang
Dr. Duong Hoang is a member of OBV's Board Director. In Mission trip 2012, he came to Vietnam and visited OBV children...
The children of OBV, as a whole, without much time and opportunity, did not get to spend a lot of time meeting with Dr. Duong Hoang. However, in the shortest time, Dr. Duong Hoang had left us with many memories and much unforgettable impressions. Unfortunately, we did not get to participate in his psychological “color-personality” assessment.
"Let's be avoice - Lend a hand - Make a difference"
We - One Body Village - want to share with all of you - one of our Volunteer - first time in VN. Thanks Kelly who introduced Angie to One Body Village!
"After 23 years, I finally made it back to the motherland. In all of its beauty and glory, I left Vietnam with bittersweet memories and haunted dreams. Amidst its vibrant landscape, eclectic culture, exquisite food, and the hustle and bustle of city life, Vietnam revealed a dark truth to me: theTRAFFICKING OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN for sexual exploitation. Protected beneath the power of the social umbrella of Canada, I was NAIVE and IGNORANT to the fact that not all children are immune to enslavement. Children as young as 6 years old are recruited or extracted from vulnerable communities and sold to "retail" sex shops.
Hien Thuc with children in Center of Handicap Children in An Thoi Dong Church
Bridge to Happiness had come to An Thoi Dong Can Gio so many times. Once we together with Priest Thong, founder of OBV, came and cooked for poor children who got disease of slow development. Other times we came for presentation, on field trips or volunteered... And they always left us with deep and unforgettable memory.
Singer Hien Thuc is interacting with children in Thien An House of love
Knowing Hien Thuc for quite a long time, hearing her sing so many times, but maybe this was the first time I heard Hien Thuc playing piano and sing at the same time, and she sang so well... This was a foreign song named Valentine, meaning of the song was the confidence of people who even they can't find each other yet they still loved and gave each other the most sincere affection. Hien Thuc sang that song for visually impaired at Thien An House to reciprocate children's affection to Hien Thuc, to Bridge to Happiness (One body village Vietnam) and Caritas Archdiocese Ho Chi Minh City.
Two weeks ago, she asked me:
Your OBV fire has died out already???
No, not really!!! It’s just that…..
At that moment, I used every possible reasons and excuses to show that, my “fire” has not completely gone out, but just barely lit. I really believed so at that instance.
Translated by Ngan Le. You can read the original in Vietnamese - entitle "Mùa hè: Mùa học và chơi - Kỳ 2: Nốt nhạc thăng hoa"