Hastily roaming in a familiar Honda, I went to find you. Information about you was quite vague; I knew that you were in that area, on that road, but that road was too long. I had been going back and forth—I did not know how many times—to observe each house. The houses were very close together, the long alleys winding. Oh, how did I know where to find you when my strength was limited!
Actually, visiting families and searching young ladies who needed help were not my jobs, but I still wanted to go this trip. This trip was prepared well to get two things done. First, specialists took care training and had speeches at a middle school near the bottom of Sam Mountain (Chau Doc-An Giang-Vietnam). Second, two directors and I went to T's house according to K's direction.
The rental room where the girl is living.
The morning phone call was to inquire the situation, the rumor was that the girl had not worked last few days. Found out that she had the fever and was home alone. There were two siblings in the house, the brother was working far from home, would not be home for several months. In Saigon, weather was muggy, hot. Occasionally, it rained but did not relieve the heat wave in this season. She was street peddler selling lottery tickets during the rain so she got sick. It caught attention of two volunteers so they decided to visit her and see where she is residing.
Getting familiar and playing with the children of OBV Vietnam happened quite often because the location is rather close, but with the children of OBV Cambodia, it is a bit difficult. Thus, not until May 2014 did I have the opportunity to go visit Cambodia and get in touch with the children.
Because I had never got in touch with the children yet, and had certain obstacles in language, I was very worried when preparing the manners lessons for them. As soon as I walked to the entrance, the children inside the house saw, went outside and opened the gate, and greeted me loud-and-clear. While lounging around and making their acquaintance, and during meals, the children even knew to say thanks when there was someone getting them something, and sorry when necessary. Oh, they already have these very good skills.
Nobody in the world has been as kind to me as my mother. Nobody in the world is as supporting to me as my father.
Today is Mother's Day. I received a bouquet of flowers and my children's best wishes. There's also a cake made first-time by one of my children. The surprise gave me more happiness.
In the first visit, the OBV children has quickly acquainted with Ms. Quynh Anh through the activities after dinner evening.
According to monthly schedule, the psychologist of One Body Village Organization would come to interact in the activities, communicate and share with the children at the OBV house in Cambodia. For the first time in month of May, the OBV children in Cambodia met the psychologist of the organization - Ms. Anh Quynh Ngo.
The first day we met her was 1 month ago. A skinny dark tanned girl in the past is "light tanned" today and had gained some weight. When she met us, she held our hands and laughed gurly. The intimacy and trust to the people she just met several times let us feel that she was already a member of the OBV family.
I have experienced different emotions deep in my heart every time I come to the OBV home.
After an hour riding like a bat out of hell on the streets of Saigon which sparkle in the sunlight, I finally get to the OBV home today at 12:00 PM. My fatigue caused by the hot weather disappears the minute I see the small house of the OBV family. As usual, I feel no more tired when looking at the innocent smiles of the children and hearing the joyful greetings of the kids: "Here you are, uncle! Why haven't you visited us lately?" My heart is invaded by an immense happiness that wipes away any worries or sadness. But today I have one more reason to feel so happy visiting the OBV home: I am starving! It's now lunch time and I should be invited to lunch.
Meeting up and persuading the child's family at the news-provider's house
She doesn't know how many siblings she has, how their faces are and whether they are fine. Because poverty follows, dad is an alcoholic and gambler and mom is a hired labor; except for the middle brother and the baby sister, the others were sold after being born. $900 USD, $100 USD was the price of each transaction – the next three siblings were sold with the price which was high compared to the living standard in Cambodia. However poverty is still poverty. The baby sister who has just been born is taken cared by her grandparents because they are afraid that their grandchild will be sold then. The grandparents have an unsettled life so the young little girl couldn't go to school and had to live lonely in the forest. Is this called "good luck?"
Photo of the girl at district police station to report, I secretly photographed as it seemed she always bows her head
When I met her, her trembling fear of strangers kept my thinking that the incident just happened yesterday, but the fact was 7 months elapsed since the heartbreaking incident.
Her family was poorest in the province, maternal mother had blood cancer, skinny drudging figure, her father had congenital heart disease, traumatic seizure anytime. Source of family income is the 1967 old motorcycle, driving the customers to support the whole family, more hungry days than full-meal days.
Dad! Where are you? Mom! Where are you?
The children were neglected when their parents divorced, the mother moved to live with her new husband, and the father went missing with his mistress. Three siblings lived like homeless, not a caregiver, not a daily meal, they took care of themselves.
Every day the children went begging for food or "had a meal" at the benefactor's family, they took showers when it was raining and hugged each other in bedtime until their clothes dried. They hang on to live as such from day to day.
H. is her name, she is 7 years old, hasn't had a day at school yet, hang around her grandfather's house all day when her parents are working all day long, the whole week. Doing the labor job is not earning much. In the season, there is some work to earn some money, otherwise .....
Following an OBV volunteer in a remote province, I came visit and found out the little girl's status in the summer hot midday of the South. Walking over 1 kilometer to the destination, we had to park the car on the edge because of the narrow road. My whole body was sweating in hot humid summer day. When I just saw her, my whole body felt numb. How such heartless and barbaric man exists. He didn't even spare a very tiny girl weigh only 14 kg.
I met you 4 years ago. You were the first child I met and brought back to One Body Village when I started the work of searching and rescuing victims of slavery and sexual abused. I still remember vividly that first time. We came from far away to the cold desolated house with only 2 sisters were living and taking care of each other. The older sister, you, was only 15 years old. I still remember the suspicious looks from the loved ones in the family and the detractors of the neighbors' pity when asked about you.
Mother Ngoc is talking with the children, new members of the OBV family
Yesterday was the past, a traumatic past.
• A little girl lived in the West of the country. After she was sexually abused by a local man and the incident was discovered and prosecuted, her whole family had been living in fear. Rocks were often thrown at the house, all bred fishes in the pond were dead after a few hours away. The family was always in watchout and ready to make emergency exit out of the house for fear of house being burned. The girl had to take leave of absence from the school because of getting beat on the way to school and intimidations.