CAMPAIGN AGAINST  CHILD SEX EXPLOITATION AND TRAFFICKING

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017 19:32

A Special Evening

It was not my first visit to OBV, but tonight was a special and remarkable one for me.

After a storm passed through Saigon, dumping water across the whole town and turning the streets into what looked like branches of a river, and more than 3 hours on a bus (a trip that would've taken 1 hour and 45 minutes normally), I arrived at the gates of OBV's house. Everybody could see how wet and exhausted I was from the journey.

The children had already come back from school; some were preparing dinner, while others were taking care of their personal hygiene. All of them were chirping to welcome me. Some ran off to get me some warm water, and a towel. Others ran in the other direction to prepare a room for me, while others told me to "quickly take a warm bath before I got sick". How absolutely sweet these children could be, and suddenly, all my tiredness, my worries and stress were left behind at the front gate.

I had a job for tonight, to replace our house mother who was away for a few days. My very first duty was to serve dinner. After giving thanks and a round of bon appetit the children started eating and chatting to each other. After a few minutes, I noticed that the children were only eating rice and vegetables. When I questioned them, they replied "Please take a piece of pork". Ahhh, any food I had not helped myself to, they dared not touch...even though they knew that I was a vegetarian. After eyeing each other off, to see who would be brave enough to take the first piece of meat, they all gave in and went in together, and the entire plate of pork was finished within a blink of the eye. Hehe, how could the kids deny such a delicious dish!

The feeling of love, mixed with the innocence of their childhood beat deep in my heart. Our children put other people before themselves, and respected their elders while caring for each other with their naive hearts. I was overcome with happiness, pride and peace. It seemed I came here not to love, but to be loved.

After dinner, those with Catholic faith gathered to say their prayers. They stood before the altar and offered thanks to God for a great day. Without any instruction, they stood together, prayer books in hand as their song lyrics echoed through the garden outside. The space was filled with a sacred glow, like as if I had been met with a small choir of angels. It was harmonious. Serene. Peaceful.

After prayers, the girls went to to study. A few got together in groups to help each other, while others cornered themselves off to study alone. This serious atmosphere wouldn't last long. Soon, math wasn't the only topic they talked about, but their own stories from their day at school started appearing in conversation. The older kids teased the younger kids, the younger kids becoming flustered at the teasing. I stood quietly to one side and smiled. How sweet their childhood was!

It was late and cold, although the rain had finally stopped. The children had made their way to bed. I marched around the property to check the doors and their beds Another day had ended, and I had only a dark night ahead of me.

I would like to thank the three golden hearts, whose teachings are full of love but still strict enough: Our House Mother, and the husband and wife team who help House Mother in managing the children's food, schedules, education and health. It is because of your love and endless efforts that the children have the chance to grow and become more mature, leaving behind a former life full of pain and sorrow. Pleas also give me the strength to face the challenges and difficulties that tomorrow may bring when we search for other young victims and welcome them to our house at OBV.

NH - OBV Vietnam

Oct 3, 2016

Translated by Jacqueline Huynh and Mr. Phung.  The original version Vietnamese entitled "Buổi Tối Khác Biệt Của Tôi"

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