The title of this article is taken from Fr. Martino's uttered words after learning about the stories of the two girls who recently arrived at the OBV home.
It has been a week since the two came to live at the home. There are noticeable changes in the two girls – both positive and joyous. However, there are things we've yet uncovered; things that hurt deeply.
Little C malnourished and frail when she arrived at OBV home.
I used to be very happy when I looked back my achievements such as our children are wise, and were recovered intact. They have grown up; have studied well and have had good jobs.
I used to be very happy when our adopted children were in the same household book with me. A family has full of caring, sharing and happiness. When they were back to their parents, they usually call me to ask how I was that day, or to ask for an advice if they are facing difficulties.
I used to be expected that my children's future will be good. They will be independent. They will have their own families/children and they will be happy.
However, no one raises their child perfectly without difficulties in their lives.
Sister Ngoc and the new children
These days of March, project staffs of OBV went with Sister Ngoc to visit and consult 3 victims' families of child sex exploitation. A five-hundred-kilometer road trip, we had to go 3 times to be successful in persuading their families to let them live in OBV Family. Due to the specific characteristic of each area, there were only 2 children can come to OBV Family, another one will be helped by project staff to carry out the procedures because until now she did not have any personal papers to prove that she is ...Vietnamese.
People say that "One good turn deserves another". Don't wait for becoming a rich man to start sharing, we should learn to share with others even though we are in difficulties and disadvantages, because there is always someone's life being much harder. Therefore, Dr Thanh Tam (MD) and Dr Duy An (PhD) drove us to some places, namely "The Baby graveyard" and "Nursing home for the elders"
After that trip, they left us some notes, I would like to quote here...
The school principal came to greet for New Year
The middle school principal, staff and teachers came to OBV. They would like OBV Vietnam to have more sexual exploitation prevention seminars in their school.
We also had chance to discuss more details about OBV children's performance at school.
Come to Love
To double joys to unfortunate children on Christmas season, Saigon Pastoral Center held the "Come to Love." The program lasted from 13:00 to 21:00 on Dec 20, 2014. OBV children Vietnam attended the meaningful program.
After being well-prepared, such as uniform, badges with codes (required by the organizer), we departed at 10:30 of the day to avoid a traffic jam.
Every year in Christmas season, we usually decorate a beautiful nativity scene. It looks beautiful too this year, and everyone wants to take photos with it.
OBV Children are coming to take photos with the nativity scene.
Our OBV Family in Cambodia had a warm meal together our children's English teacher after we returned home from the nativity scene with PEACE-JOYNESS-HAPPINESS. At home, our children gave their presents and good wishes to their English teacher, then the teacher taught them to say best wishes to me. After that, she helped us to prepare the meal.
L has dark skin and looks healthy. She’s 10 year old but can easily be mistaken for a 6 – 7 year old.
Since L entered the OBV Cambodia, she seemed sad, hardly talk or laugh. Lots of enticements required to get a yes or no out of L. Eventhough she refused to talk but other children at the home gathered around trying to engage L in their conversations or to play with her. All the older children, after returning home from school, always inquired and greeted L with a smile.
I headed out from Phnom Penh to Compung Thum after I read about L in the newspaper. I met up with the local police and L’s mother to inform them about the services OBV offers. L’s mother asked for time to think things over. Two days later, L’s mother contacted me and signed the agreement for L to come and stay at the OBV home. L is 10 year-old and currently in 3rd grade. She was raped and her brother interenved after he heard her cry. Her parents are divorced and both have been remarried with new family of their own.
These days the children are competing for good grade and earning points for good conducts. For example, a child who earned 9.5 out of 10 on Khmer subject or 8 out of 10 in English class would have a negative mark removed from his/her record. At the same time, if a child noticed a dirty floor and voluntary picked up the broom to sweep the floor; or cleaned up his/her room or doing the dishes without being asked to do so also got a negative mark removed from his/her record. After the program was introduced, the children became more aware, well behaved and self-motivated.
In spite of summer, the children still learn English in the morning everyday. They are studying and exchanging views each other.
These are their activities as usual in the morning as well as in the afternoon of summer. Until October 10 the children come back to school and new school year will start.
Today, 5:30pm, I took the kids around and went to the KFC restaurant in the area near the night market of Phnom Penh to eat by Tuk Tuk.
Summer ended! The children competed and worked hard to earn good grades. All had stride with great effort in learning English, Khmer, martial arts, and obeying house's rules and schedules, even doing chores.
Now that the new school year began, the children's day will be filled with learning. There are 2 sessions each day – morning and afternoon with English and Khmer subjects. Nevertheless, they continue to stride and compete.
If you've been following the stories on our OBV website, you'll remember the story of one of our little girl published in: A Fate Like Weed.
After many visits and dialogue exchanged with C's family, I persuaded her family to let C comes and stays at OBV home. C's family is not in a situation to provide proper care for her. C's dad is mentally ill. C's mom and her grandparents are busy making end meets. C was often found wondering the streets and highways barefeet from Can Tho to Soc Trang. The chance of C facing abused and kidnapped for sex trafficking was pretty high. Thus, I felt a great sense of relief after I brought C to live in OBV home.
Extracurricular activities for the children of OBV have been finished, but the images of them running, jumping, laughing, somehow are still in my heart. What impressed me most was the moments when in the end of the day, the children were sitting in a circle to think about themselves.
In the circle, the silence, the melody, the heartfelt spoken words... all of that made the children and me think. To help us forget all about the world outside uncle Sy told us to close our eyes, relax and reminded us to think about our families, about our beloved ones, about the time that we made the others sad and disappointed. And just like that, the melody, the silence, the sentiments, the questions were repeated over and over again in our heads, and stuck in our mind.