Entering the dormitory at the end of the day, watching shadows bounce off the walls, I couldn't see see anything at first, but I could hear her greeting -- a little girl that I had picked up last week. The clear voice came from a small figure with a joyful smile.
Her life had been nothing.
One thing after another
Adding to her grief
A father who rejected her at birth.
Muong La was her nick name given by sisters, half out of love, half out of teasing.
She had been living in the OBV house for four months now. She integrated herself quite quickly and became and new loving sister. She was happy and she cared for those around her, always ready to lend a hand to her sisters. She lived to the tune and spirit of OBV. Besides these positives, she of course doubted herself from time to time, but was told not to worry, and to simply work on the weaknesses she felt needed improving, with OBV as her companion.
OBV welcomes a child with open arms and with little attention to their religious background. The the founder and the staff are predominantly catholic, only a third of the children who walk through our doors are born Catholic.
For community integration, the children participate in activities organized by the local parish, however, are given the choice to study and convert to Catholicism. In fact, 6 children made the choice to receive their First Communion two years ago, and 2 of them continued on to receive their Confirmation today.
She was a little child, whose story made us cry non-stop for most of our trip to Malaysia. She had been there for two years, and in those two years, she had made new friends, but had also seen the same friends go home while she remained in a foreign country. Her hopes to return home had long evaporated since she had lost all of her personal documents and identification. She was excited to receive the good news that she was finally able to return to her motherland.
Welcome back! And now we begin the journey for you to rediscover your self value and worth.
April 13, 2017
Translated by Jacqueline Huynh and Mr. Phung. The Vietnamese original version in FB of NCHP
My Dear Children,
During Holy Thursday mass this evening, my eyes were stung. Every single word of the development of Love had soaked deeply in my heart.The Love God granted to us, and our love for each other.
How many years had we been through this? We celebrated the simple ceremony of washing feet every Holy Thursday, a reminder for us to live with humility, to serve, and to love.
It was a big surprise not only for the children, but also for the adults who attended his seminars.
It was the first class of 'life skills' to be presented by Professor Toan, with the very sensitive topic of sex. People assumed the children would be too embarrassed or hesitant to participate. But, his confidence and teaching methodology encouraged them to open up, to speak bravely and ask as many questions as possible.
Besides the children living with us in the OBV house, OBV supports other children, who for special reasons could not live with us, and instead now either remain with their parents, or at centres with specialized cared. However, OBV still remains in contact with them by phone, and endeavor to visit them a few times a year.
After many long rainy days in Saigon, came a day of brilliant sunshine. The elementary school kids were off this morning, a Saturday, and they, along with the OBV counselors decided to play outside.
Kids have an amazing ability to play for hours with minimal props, any plan or rules, or cookies and candy. All they needed were rubber bands (to make a long elastic for a skipping game), a few chopsticks and ping pong balls, a handkerchief, and a slipper. They played so passionately, that we as the adults looked on, embarrassed that we didn't know how to contribute to their games. After joking around about it, we decided to just take in their spirit, their childlike joy, naivety and innocence, to create a relaxed atmosphere and help them feel that they are loved unconditionally, and to forget their dark and sorrow filled pasts.
an old article...
Although Dad had been through long days of 2011 Mission Trip, he didn’t forget the promise to take us on a trip. So, we were on the way to Dai Nam.
Being with us this time were L. – a volunteer in the 2011 Mission Trip, and K. – another volunteer who has spent her annual vacation to teach OBV’s children how to cut their hair with a desire that “not only to help kids know how to cut their hair but also consider this as a job for their future”.
My dear friends, as I have shared in previous articles about my "night flights", I usually go to Viet Nam and Campuchia for my work with One Body Village-website http://www.onebodyvillage.org/. , and the "night flights" were only my own personal excursions, hoping to help a few people and at the same time create occasions for young people in Viet Nam to experience the happiness of giving.
That is why I could not post the work I did on social media, not like I could tell about my "night flights". Whenever you called me and got a busy signal, that meant I was outside of the area of service of Viet Nam, in another country. I'm sorry but I couldn't tell you where I was. Now that it is over, I can finally tell you the story.
Please enjoy the first story as told by my cousin, whom I dragged along to Campuchia with me.
I totally did not plan on going to Campuchia. However, my post-Tết celebration plans fell apart, plus an incident in my life upset me quite a bit. So, I accepted my cousin Thông's invitation to accompany him to Campuchia, though I had turned him down before, not having any interest in his "Cambodian trips." Surprisingly, he did not give up and kept inviting, and since I was feeling down, I decided to go with him. Very simple, if he invited me for a mission trip, I would have plenty of work to occupy me so I can forget things I was trying to forget. It would be wonderful if we also went to see Angkor Wat, but it would be alright too if we did not, he did not invite me to be a tourist. It was all my guessing anyway, he never told me what the trip was about when he invited me to go to Cambodia with him.
1 pm, the First Day of Tết, my parents and I arrived back in Saigon after celebrating with our extended family since the 28th of last month. The streets of Saigon were empty. My parents and uncles went to visit our relatives to offer their well wishes for the New Year. I excused myself and went back to my hotel to wash my clothes and get ready for my New Year night excursion, which I will add to my Cambodian trip on the 2nd day of Tết.
After finishing the preparation, I turned on my computer to answer email. I noticed my reporter friend was still online, which meant she was on call, so I sent her a greeting. It turned out she was almost done with her call, she invited me to go with her to visit her adopted children in area 4. An hour later, the two of us were making our way through the winding alleys of the slum area. When we stopped in front of the house, people were staring at us with curiosity. Vũ whispered, " I'm already a familiar sight, it's you they are looking at." I only laughed without saying anything. Vũ already told me the story of the three sisters that we were visiting while we were on our way. This is the story by my friend Pham Vũ, in her own words:
An old story...
After"exploding" in the first story, I am less upset. So I am now calm enough to sit down and write about the second story: the story of people who are really crazy.
Some people said about us: " Those nuts! Tết is a time to spend with family and friends, not a time to wander on the streets like that!" I can only laugh it off when I hear them, how can I explain to them? However, once in a while I would snapped when I feel criticized too much: " If priests don't do that work, can parishioners do it? Do you want to? If you do, then I will stop." I know I should not talk like that but once in a while, I got mad. Talk about crazy!
An old article...
I am back in the USA after a month of wandering in VN and Campuchia, there is still so much to sort out inside. First of all, I still owe you a report on my “true feelings”, which I promised I would write. One friend even wrote: “ We are still waiting for your stories”, even though they already read reports and saw pictures posted on the website , from others in the group. They said those reports did not have “my marks” and demanded the stories I still owe them.
An old article...
According to the assignment of the One Body Village (OBV) Organization which has established by Father Martino Thông in the USA, 3 sisters of us who were OBV representatives in Vietnam had departed to Xuân Hưng – Đồng Nai province to deliver a sum of money from benefactors' supportive fund to a devoted class of Miss Huong.
In brief introduction, the class was built by Miss Huong and her husband on their home land. They created table and chairs for the class by connected pieces of wood and pieced some used tole and timber together to erect the wall. In last May, Father Thông led a group of young OBV members from US to the class helping complete the boundary fence for the class.
Many native Vietnameses have returned from Cambodia to this region for re-settlement. The class has been built up to help children of those Vietnamese families. Many parents have had difficulties either in cost of living or taken not enough cares of them. If not being well cared and educated the children would face high risk of being traded as prostitutes in Cambodia. Therefore, the main objective of OBV is to look after the children contributing into prevention of child sex slavery....
I was so excited to see the class wall because I missed a chance that was called by Father Thông on email for help build the wall.
The wall of "history"