After arriving in Can Tho and then resting for a little while, K. and I were thinking about renting a motorbike to go to T.L. district to take identity documents for S. But the female journalist named C. helped us in transportation and went there with us. We completed all necessary formalities after waiting hours. After that, we took a little time to visit S's home which is on the edge of the river. We went there on a rented motorbike. Although we didn't want to hug the driver, we had to do that because the road was so small that it seemed we might fall over if we didn't hug him. It was a very nervous feeling whenever another motorbike was coming in opposing direction. After that, we moved to a boat to go to the other side of the river to S' home.
We had planned to go to Ca Mau at 4:00 A.M. on the next day. Because of being afraid of oversleeping, we didn't have a good sleep. This time, our driver was also Mr. B., who was a journalist. He told us that the kids' grandfather had passed away the last day. We thought in this situation when their family was suffering misery, maybe we couldn't take the kids with us. However, Mr. B said the children's family would let us take their kids with us and they said they were very glad to do that and hoped their kids would be taken that day.
The road was very bad. Two journalists told us stories that helped us feel less tired. Some times a big hole on the road made our hearts stop beating. Arriving in Ca Mau, we met Th who was said a big man but also getting a big heart. He was very helpful because he knew how to go there in this waterland area. We had big breakfast with special food of Ca Mau but we didn't have time to enjoy it. Th had asked the boat holder to pick us at the boat parking place. Because the kids' house was on the edge of the river, there wasn't exact address with number of the house or road, it was very difficult to find it. All the things we could do was being on the boat, sitting there and asking at every stop we made. Finally, we got there. Their mother came out to welcome us. She was thin, not very healthy and wearing conical hat. And that was how we recognized her.
The house made by leaves with its floor of soil
It was raining. We walked on marsh to go inside of the house. It was a house made of leaves and the floor was soil. There was not anything that had a good cost in the house except for a locker they received from a relative who had passed away. We silently found our seats and started to talk. It was a painful feeling to see CL's frightened eyes. She didn't smile or talk, just had a faraway look and stayed in her mother's arms. She hadn't forgot her terrible memory which was also her sister's.
After introducing briefly about Bridge To Happiness Center, K. talked about our aim this time and our effort to get the kids' identity documents ready quickly at school and at People's Committee office of the district. Thanks to the relationships of Mr. Th and Mr. B with the people there, identity documents seemed to be OK. Other necessary documents would be sent soon by post after they had been ready.
The kids preparing books, clothes and everything ready to go to stay with Bridge To Happiness Center.
Then we came back to their home to let them get everything ready to go far and long. While putting something in the bags for the girls, I got to know why my eyes got a pricking sensation as eating fresh vegetables. When it seemed too much to handle, I got out of there, leaving their mother putting her daughters' things into the bags. She was glad to let them go, but also very sad. She told us that they were good at learning. They weren't the best in the class but were good. However, after that terrible experience, they had been suffering depression. They had to leave school because of their friends' tease. When being asked "Do you want to go to learn at the city?", both of them answer yes.
The OBV's House manager and the kids looking at the kids' house before going to the city.
We continued our trip. In this trip from Ca Mau to Can Tho, there were 8 people, including the two kids and their mother. We had to stay overnight at Can Tho and then continued to go back to the city early in the morning on the next day,
When we got home, the kids ran out to welcome their mother and new members. To the two new kids, everything was so new and strange. All the children at OBV family also felt something ridiculous in their new members: the dark skin, innocent eyes, etc. We got home when it was time for lunch. So everyone gathered together with two new kids. But these two kids just sat there and looked at their meal, not eating anything. Then the older girl said: Mommy, I want a glass of water. Ms. Ng – their mother – told us that at home, her kids got used to eating their meal with water. I was very surprised but then quickly stood up and got them a glass of water. Both of them pour the water into their meal and seemed to enjoy their lunch. We felt in our hearts that this family had suffered 4 "none": None of education, none of home, none of occupation, and none of anything to lose.
Our two new members quickly got along well with the others. Mother N chose two older girls to take care of them. Then, we found out that there were a lot of head lice on their heads. No one was able to get all the head lice out of the girls' heads that we had to decide to ask a hairmaker to help them every day.
It was time to say goodbye. The mother talked softly to her daughters, gave advices and said goodbye in tears. The kids also cried but then quickly got back their smiles because they were rounded by warm arms.
In the farthest area of the nation, there were two little kids who had been suffering the deepest misery.
We all hope that two of them will have a brighter future.
Are you the storm that cracks my soul, the ocean that breaks my heart, the tornado flowing to awake my mind or the waterfall falling over and over again in my heart? Are you?
And who's gonna be the ship for you to take while there's a storm coming outside? Who's gonna be peaceful parking lot for your life's little boat to stop by and stay? Who's gonna be the river that speaks up and lends a hand? Who's gonna be the bridge to happiness for you? Who's gonna be there for you?
OBV Vietnam 9/9/2012
Translated by Le Nhat Lam. Original version in Vietnamese entitled "Tận cùng Cà Mau - Tận cùng nỗi đau!"