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Obv Newsletter Volume 10 English


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Obv Newsletter Volume 10 English

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Obv Newsletter Volume 10 English

  1. 1. USA / Head Quarter: ONE BODY VILLAGE P.O. Box 162933, Atlanta, GA 30321 Phone: 706 825 3032 (Vietnamese) - 770 845 6261 (English) Email: Hotline in Vietnam: +84.949.754.294 VIET NAM - CAMBODIA - SINGAPORE - LAOS - USA From: ONEBODYVILLAGE P.O.Box162933,Atlanta,GA30321 Phone:7068253032(Vietnamese)-7708456261(English) ONE BODY VILLAGE Newsletter Volume 10 - January 2016 Sunday 1st November 2015, Dear benefactors, supporters and friends of One Body Village, First and foremost I give thanks to the Lord for his guidance on One Body Village – and I thank our friends in Austra- lia for answering the call to form One Body Village Australia (OBV Aust) One Body Village Australia officially registered and operates since October 2015. One Body Village Australia is: 1. A non-profit organization 2. Independent and is not under the operational structure of One Body Village in the United States of America (OBV USA) 3. Shares the same mission as One Body Village USA and One Body Village Canada: that is to combat child sex ex- ploitation and trafficking especially in Southeast Asian countries 4. Email contact for OBV Aust is May our Lord shine his love abundantly on you! Together we help the little children. Be a Voice – Lend a Hand – Make a Difference and Save a Life. Lm Martino Nguyễn Bá Thông USA / Head Quarter: ONE BODY VILLAGE P.O. Box 162933, Atlanta, GA 30321 Phone: 706 825 3032 (Vietnamese) - 770 845 6261 (English) Email: Hotline in Vietnam: +84.949.754.294 VIET NAM - CAMBODIA - SINGAPORE - LAOS - USA From: ONEBODYVILLAGE P.O.Box162933,Atlanta,GA30321 Phone:7068253032(Vietnamese)-7708456261(English) USA / Head Quarter: ONE BODY VILLAGE P.O. Box 162933, Atlanta, GA 30321 Phone: 706 825 3032 (Vietnamese) - 770 845 6261 (English) Email: Hotline in Vietnam: +84.949.754.294 VIET NAM - CAMBODIA - SINGAPORE - LAOS - USA From: ONEBODYVILLAGE P.O.Box162933,Atlanta,GA30321 Phone:7068253032(Vietnamese)-7708456261(English) USA / Head Quarter: ONE BODY VILLAGE P.O. Box 162933, Atlanta, GA 30321 Phone: 706 825 3032 (Vietnamese) - 770 845 6261 (English) Email: Hotline in Vietnam: +84.949.754.294 TO:_____________________________ Address:______________________________ ______________________________ From: ONEBODYVILLAGE P.O.Box162933,Atlanta,GA30321 Phone:7068253032(Vietnamese)-7708456261(English) VIET NAM - CAMBODIA - SINGAPORE - LAOS - MALAYSIA - AUSTRALIA - USA
  2. 2. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English Two years ago One Body Village was chosen to be the 2013-2014 Grant recipient from Union of North American Vietnamese Student Associations, a non-profit, community-based organization founded in 2004 of Vietnamese un- dergraduates, graduates, and young professionals. And... toward the end of the eleventh annual leadership conference from July 24 – 27, 2014, the CPP (Collective Phi- lanthropy Project) team of UNAVSA presented to OBV president a BIG CHECK of $85,849.88 — the largest amount UNAVSA had ever raised for its CPP recipient in the last 10 years. The VSA at George Mason University (Virginia) was named the TOP for raising more than 8 thousand dollars, and together with other Vietnamese Student Associations in the Mid-Atlantic region (MAUVSA) they raised more than 25 thousand dollars for this year CPP. The grant will help OBV to push stronger in our effort to prevent, rescue, raise and rehabilitate young male victims of child sex trafficking. OBV appreciates UNAVSA’s recognition of OBV Mission and Vision, and below were what OBV have done with CPP support: • Housing / Food / Rehabilitate / Educate for 6 male victims in Ho Chi Minh City • Support 1 at-home sexually abused male victim in Nghe-An Province • Under-cover / Search and Rescue in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam • Parents workshop in Can-Tho with 46 attendees • 6 classes about sex trafficking awareness for 599 highschool students in District 12, Ho Chi Minh City • 50 classes about sex trafficking awareness for more than 6,500 highschool students in different districts, Ho Chi Minh City • 22 classes about sex trafficking awareness for more than 1,830 highschool students in Soc-Trang Province • 17 classes about sex trafficking awareness for more than 1,120 highschool students in An-Giang Province • 3 classes about sex trafficking awareness for more than 200 special children in Hoc-Mon and special Cari- tas class • 21 Summer Sex Trafficking Awareness for over 758 students around Ho Chi Minh City • Organized Mid-Autumn Festival with Sex Trafficking Awareness for over 1,000 street children & poor labor- ers • Sex Trafficking Awareness for over 630 young chil- dren in Lao Cai, Da Nang, and Hue U N A V S A C P P O B V 02
  3. 3. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English Her “report”... 5:30am - The girls wake up earlier than I do to carry out their daily cleaning duties. I supervise them as they constantly need to be hurried along to meet the 6:30am breakfast call. 6:15am - Breakfast call. 6:45am - I supervise the girls as they get ready for school. Making sure they make their beds, well groomed, bags are packed, and the sleeping area is left tidy. I hurry along the girls who are running late.  7:30am - All the girls have left for school. I then teach/play with C., mainly just teaching her how to identify colors and numbers. She is able to count up to 10 from mem- ory but struggles with recognizing actual figures. I believe sending her to the learning center will help a great deal. She’s not incapable of learning as she can interact well while playing with others and in the kitchen, she’s just a considerably slow learner.  8:30am -  I check the study room, sleeping area, kitchen, and bath- rooms to make sure everything was cleaned properly. Check the laun- dry to see which girl hasn’t washed her clothes.  9:30am - Sister Th. and I usually start cooking lunch.  10:30am – Elementary and middle school kids arrive home. I supervise while they change out of their school uniforms and help out in the kitchen. Everyone has to be hurried along or nothing usually gets done with the younger girls.  11:30am - Lunch call.  12:00-1:30pm - Middle school kids leave for school after lunch. Ele- mentary kids stay home and naps before leaving for school again at 1:30pm, or I do extra tutoring dur- ing this time. C. naps until 2:30pm. CL (a highschool girl) comes home during this time for lunch and a nap before heading to school at 3pm. 2:30pm: I teach numbers & colors with C. for only 30 minutes as she doesn’t function as highly in the af- ternoon. She then likes to play skip- ping on her own while I supervise outside.  3:30pm: Middle school kids come home first and begin food prepa- ration for dinner. I help out where A week living in OBV house We always ask volunteer to be a “family member”, not a “guest”. In November, 2015, Lisa (Thảo) - a student from Australia - volunteered to stay in OBV house for a week. Would you like to know how it was? 03
  4. 4. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English possible and supervise to hurry the girls along. 4:00pm: I call this rush hour as all elementary and middle school kids come home from school and need to shower and wash all their uni- forms and clothes from the previ- ous day. The girls need to super- vised 100% of the time during this time of the day or else we won’t meet the dinner call. Mrs. Th. takes care of the girls in the kitchen as su- pervising 17 girls isn’t possible for 1 person.  6:00pm: Dinner call. 6:30pm-9:15pm: Everyone begins homework. Throughout my week at the house, I have taught & tu- tored every girl except CL and S. The younger girls do need a dedi- cated person to constantly super- vise them while they study. Not only to help with homework but to calm the chaos.  9:30pm: Bed time.  Although my stay has been short, I want you to know I care deeply for these girls. I never thought I’d connect with them the way I have in 1 week worth of teaching. Maybe because the girls felt comfortable with me and opened up to me which made the experience much easier Some girls are struggling with school- ing not because they are not trying hard enough but their capacity (genetically and fun- damentally) has been reached. Schooling is THE most important thing for a child’s future but some of the girls may benefit more from learning a trade rather than being force fed math equations that they just don’t understand.  I completely and utterly adore and revere Sister Ngoc. She is the heart & soul of this home and OBV is very lucky to have her on ground zero with the girls. Before entering the house I never thought about the people behind the scenes, the ones that cook and discipline these girls. It is no easy task and Mr/Mrs Tr-Th give their 150% ef- fort into raising these girls. From an outside perspective, constant scolding and disciplining seems un- fair towards these girls as they are just… children. However, it takes effort to notice the girls’ mistakes, it takes courage to point out their mistakes, and it takes a lot of love to then punish and discipline their mistakes (which they make all the time). I’m very happy that Mr/Mrs Tr-Th are there to help out.  I love these girls like my little sisters and would love if I could continue to be in their lives, especially the senior students. I want to help out financially and mentally in their fi- nal years of study before they get to make the choice of either staying or leaving the OBV home.  Regards, Lisa Vuong  04
  5. 5. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English Her reflection … Hope. Believe. Persevere. This truly is the house of hope. I found love where I least expected it, right here with you girls. They say there’s a story behind ev- erything. How a picture got on a wall, how a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are heart- breaking. But I want you beautiful girls to know that your stories and circumstances do not define you or your future. You are the choices that you make and the education you fiercely endeavour. You are your thank you and the gratitude you show to those who help you. Remember the hands that have paved you the path to a better fu- ture. Keep your head held high and remember there are faces you have never met that are supporting you. They say the best gift given to you is at birth, your mother. You are all so lucky to have 2 moms –your birth mother and Mom Ngoc. Although my stay here has been short, I know she has done her best to restore faith in you, teaching you that a stable foundation to any future be- gins with an education, and believe. Believe in yourself, believe in your abilities, believe in God, and most importantly believe in love. The true essence of love is caring for someone in a situation where you don’t necessarily have to. That’s what Mom Ngoc, Aunt Th, and Un- cle Tr have given you: Love. Aunt Th, and Uncle Tr on behalf all those who have donated to build this house of hope, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the sacrifices you have made to give these girls a place to call home. I’m so glad that I got the chance to meet the hands that have feed, clothed, washed, and disciplined these girls. Girls, I leave you with 3 last words… Hope, Believe, and Persevere. Have hope in humanity; there are still good-hearted people out there who will offer you a hand when you fall to your knees. Believe in yourself; nothing is ever impossible if you want it with all your heart. Head up, shoulders back, fight, and per- severe. Be proud of who you are, fight for the life that you deserve, and then have courage to keep go- ing when all seems to fail. Life gets better than this, just work harder. I promise you this much. I wish each and every one of you a world full of happiness and know that you will always be close to my heart. Thank you for teaching me how to love in a whole new way. I am forever grateful. A special note to my girls: C: I don’t know what it is. Maybe I knew you in my past life but you have changed a part of me. Re- member to wear your slippers on the correct foot, don’t answer back to your sisters, don’t put your fin- gers in your mouth, and there are no such things as ghost! If you are naughty, sister MA has the right to put you in the naughty corner. N: 5x8 is 40, not 35! Remember, if T is sad what do you do? T: You have the eyes of an angel. They were the first thing I saw when I walked through those gates. Stay 05
  6. 6. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English beautiful my dear. Also, if you don’t want N looking at you then first you mustn’t look at her! BN: You are very intelligent so make the most of the education you are given. Also, calm down and stop hit- ting your sisters when playing. T1: Thank you for letting me read your letter about your teacher, you write beauti- fully. Remember to wash your pil- lowcase every 2 weeks! T2: Write down the rules for the board game so the girls won’t have to fight over who gets to have the next turn on every role of the dice. D: I love your eagerness to learn even when you get the question wrong. You are not allowed to have any water 2 hours before bed. You have to stop wetting the bed! Tr: Learn how to speak up when Mom Ngoc asks you questions, only then will you learn how to stand up for yourself as you get older. MA: Thank you for raising your hand when I asked if someone can take care of C after I leave. Girls, you all belong to the one home. Love each other like true sisters. M: The smartest man will always tell you that there is another man smarter than he is. Learn patience my dear, it’s a virtue. Th1: Thank you for the pencil with my name engraved on it. I’ll always think of you and the cut you got when making it. Th2: Don’t rush to grow up. Before true love can find you, you must learn how to love yourself. So love yourself by getting good grades at school. Love exists, trust me. N: Remember “not” means no. And the dictionary is your best friend! The next time I come back, we’ll play basketball! CL: You are 3rd in command after Mom Ngoc & Aunt Th. I see great leadership qualities in you, a born leader. Study hard and the world is your oyster. S: I will send my Australian ghosts by airmail to come play with you at night time! Always scaring the girls, if C wets the bed at night time then we all know who is cleaning it up the next morning. YOU! N: Just like your name you are as beautiful as a fully blossomed flow- er. Remember, when you build that amazing house like the one we saw on the way to the mar- ket I’m coming to live with you and to be your adopted child! I love your ghost stories! Also, try to eat slower in the future… you’ll be doing your stomach a favour my darling. D: My sweet little D! I wish I could pack you in my suitcase and take you with me! Please remember what I’ve taught you… Practice where you lack, practice until you weakness becomes your strength and then practice some more. Make the most of Aunt P. when she’s here on Saturdays and ask her every question about Tourism, she’s going to help you get closer to your dreams. It’s never a coincidence when we meet people; God has put them in our lives for a reason so make the most of it. I wish you all the success in your final years of study; don’t waste the love that has been given to you. Study hard and study well. Thank you for being such good company. 11-2015 06
  7. 7. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English January 8, 2015 - Reuniting with the girls is always my favorite part of my mission with One Body Vil- lage. It has been four years since I was first introduced to OBV by my dear friend Kelly. I experience feel- ings of dread, anger, sorrow, and an overwhelming tightness in my chest every time I recall her stories about rape and torture of children no older than eight years old. She told me of a young girl who was tied to a four-post bed drugged and raped for long and insufferable hours un- der the weight and sweat of the hei- nous man who bought her. In tears, she told me of how that young girl cowered with impenetrable fear under a table at the sight of that same man days after her abuse. To me, the most unspeakable crime is that of which the freedom and in- nocence of children is so audacious- ly violated by monsters disguised as men and witches of women who allow it to happen. The wicked business of stealing children, sell- ing children, and sleeping with children is foul andimpermissible. I was greeted with gleeful delight when I met the girls again this Janu- ary. The young girls that I met three years ago, who captured every bit of my attention and commanded every ounce of my devotion, have grown to be even lovelier than our first encounter. Their hair have This is our mission group 2015! We are from all over the world, includ- ing Malaysia, USA, and Italy. I’m the only Canadian! Throughout the year, I make bracelets to raise money and awareness for OBV. I have gained much support from family, friends, and strangers with this initiative and I thought it would be nice to give each group member a bracelet to break the ice! The feather represents freedom and transforma- tion for children enslaved by sexual abuse. We endured a long (and stinky!) bus ride to the girls’ home our first day in Vietnam. It was worth it to see their little faces again! See heaven’s got a plan for you 07
  8. 8. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English grown long, their faces matured, and their demeanor is notablymore elegant and demure. Even little C.L. has grown many inches since I saw her last! It touches my heart that they still remember my face, my name, and what we have done every year together. As always, D. compliments my makeup and says, “Co Trang de thuong qua!”, which translates to, “You’re so easy to love”. I could say the same about each and every one of them. I always bring goodies for the girls. I brought them little gift bags filled with toothbrushes and toothpaste (the nurse in me told me so), hair ties, headbands, and candy. They treasured small gestures like this so much that little T. even put her books in the gift bag and brought it to school. M.A. wrote me a poem about her mother last year. I have it framed in my home. She was one of the top of her class last year, and I am told that now her grades are slip- ping and she often picks fights in school and can be a bully. I don’t blame her anger but hope that we can teach her to find peace and love in herself and others around her. As always, they love to braid my hair while we make balloon animals to- gether. 08
  9. 9. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English And then I met C., who was res- cued by OBV less than a year ago. Her dark brown eyes were wells of sorrow. Her sulky expression and slouched, spiritless posture conveys an inarticulable gloominess. I was instantly struck with sadness when I saw her hiding in the doorway at a safe distance. As her story goes, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend at the tender age of four and a half years old. Her mother, 26 years old, was veryindifferent to her existence. C. wandered the streets aimlessly with her teddy bear wrapped in her arms while picking cigarette butts. She never went to school. She never learned to speak properly. Her brutally defiled body was left swimming in a pool of her own blood after the twisted villain was done with her. The government and community sponsored C. with a great sum of money as her story captured media attention. What did her mother do with it? She selfishly spent the money on her own needs. C., now six years old, seldom smiles and close to never does she laugh. How could she? What did she have to love and laugh about? C. keeps to herself, despite the gentle efforts of her older OBV sisters to engage her. She was basically mute when she first came to live with OBV. She couldn’t even say, “Mom”. All of her mannerisms reveal a child that was If only you can see the sadness in her eyes. I love walking the girls to school every morning. We eagerly walk together hand-in-hand. They were proud to show me their classrooms and didn’t want to part when the school bell rang! This year, we took all the girls from Vietnam and Cambodia to a Dam Xen Water Park as a reward for their good behaviour throughout the year. They loved it, and I loved seeing them playful and happy! Aren’t we all adorable?! I’m so in love. 09
  10. 10. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English dren like them, are subject to the depths of human depravity. Their historyofsustainedsexual,physical, psychological abuse is unfathom- able. People ask me how and why I continue to fight for them, given that I work long hours in the emer- gency department that exhausts my time and energy. I cannot fail these children, especially having met them, by diverting my eyes from the neatly disguised face of slavery that abandoned and neglected by fam- ily. I once caught her quirkily eat- ing a sandwich with a spoon with mismatched shoes on her feet! Al- though I chuckled at the time, I was quickly reminded that she is a dam- agedand tormented child who will require years of love, structure, and discipline to be even a fraction of what we would consider, “normal”. I also met T. for the first time this year who was a victim of unspeak- able cruelty. Already naive and too trusting because of her mental delay, she was lured by a neigh- bor into a grassy field. The vicious man raped her, beather sense- lessly, and even twisted both her nipples until raw, bleeding, and de- tached from her body. He was mo- ments away from killing her if her mother had not found him hover- ing over her limp body. The man is now in prison but I truly think that even death is not a fair and just punishment for this godawful act. These girls, and so many other chil- Sister Ngoc (mother of the OBV home) said that C. has never been so happy and attached to anyone like she was to Danh, one of our group members. Within moments of meeting each other, she instantly opened up to him. She has never laughed, played, or been so verbal with anyone. She wakes up every morning searching for him. She clutches onto his hand every moment they are together. He is that symbol of strength and protec- tion that she never had. T. is different from the other chil- dren. She also keeps to herself and tends to eat with the adults in the home. She mumbles when she speaks in a low tone that is difficult to understand. Her suffering was unjust and I become increasingly angry when I think of what she endured. Other OBV children welcomed C. with open arms. It is touching to see their attentiveness to her. Being the youngest of the home, the other girls treat her like a little sister. They make sure she is safe, happy, and full! clings to them like a shadow. I am so happy to be a part of One Body Village that gives them the ten- der love, care, dignity, and respect that they were so cruelly denied. Angela 10
  11. 11. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English January 13, 2015 - It is always a humbling experience to visit the parish of Father Cong on the out- skirts of Can Tho, Vietnam. The people who live in this area have very little possessions besides their sweat-drenched cotton shirts, tat- tered sandals (sometimes no shoes at all!), and rickety-roofed cots to call home. Families cannot afford to send their children to school. They cannot afford medical care. Older adults receive little social as- sistance and cannot afford medi- cine for very common chronic dis- eases like high blood pressure and diabetes. Middle aged men and women work long hours to make The Have-nots A journey to church or the market can be a long and treacherous one, especially if you live on the other side of the river! You must walk, catch the ferry, and walk some more. No luxury cars and bridges here! Well, there are bridges, but they look like this! Do you dare?! One of our community develop- ment initiatives (led by Anh Sang) includes sponsoring the parishio- ners with ducks. They breed them, feed them, sell them, and if the business fails, they eat them! It has been a very successful method of sustainable income for the poor people in rural Can Tho. Ultimately, it prevents them from selling their children, because they have an alternative income source. 11
  12. 12. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English the bare minimum to feed their dog, their chickens, their ducks, their children, their parents, them- selves, and maybe two or three more family members who have shacked up under the same roof. The socialist ideologies of Vietnam where the working class is sup- posed to benefit, have not fully been executed with the introduc- tion of a mixed economy and mar- ket mechanisms in the 1980s. The liberation of the productive forces created a better life for most Viet- namese people; however, it cre- ated relations of exploitation in the developing sector. It also cre- ated an elite group of rich people whose interests are separate and apart from the masses of workers and peasants. The most obvious problem is the corruption amongst government and public officials. They have an overwhelming inter- est in big houses and luxury cars in- stead of in the suffering of millions of workers in industrial zones and peasants working umpteen hours in rice fields. The gap between the rich and the poor is astounding. For example, I have family members in Vietnam who share a small 400 square foot apartment between 10 people, while others share a seven floor mansion that cost 2 million Here is a home of one of the parishioners. You can see that it lacks privacy and stability. When it rains, it floods the entire house as the floors are unpaved and the roof and walls are barely sealed! The two above photos are examples of bathrooms. On the left, one would squat over a pond of eels that the family would eat!!!! 12
  13. 13. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English USD between 3 people. Given the corruption in Vietnam, I can see why health care, education, and social services remain at the bot- tom of the priority list and why the people of rural Can Tho con- tinue to live in destitute conditions. What the parishioners of Can Tho lack in worldly possessions, they boast in love of family and com- munity, kindness, hospitality, ser- vitude, and faith. I have never met people so humble, so honest, and so generous. They welcomed us into their next-to-empty homes with open arms and offered us all the food and drink that they saved for themselves. A “meal” to one lo- cal family was a bowl of rice, soy sauce, and a plate of boiled cab- bage. They have no cell phones, no televisions, no cars, no tablets nor iPads. “Luxury” is the opportunity to take the bus home from Church after saving $20,000 VND ($1 USD) to do so. I spoke with a decrepit and sunburnt 80 year-old woman who chose to walk an hour to church every Sunday in order to save the $40,000 VND to buy fish instead! At times I cannot help but feel guilty. These people share my lan- guage, my roots, and my culture. They look like me, talk like me, hope like me, and dream like me. But un- like me, they have obstructed ac- cess to the very basics of needs, including food, clean water, shelter, and clothing. Don’t even talk about sanitation, education, and health care! I am free, while they are held captive in impoverished limbo. I am always humbled in their pres- ence because despite their strug- gle, they are rich in character. They don’t deserve my pity but my re- The old lady on the left is too weak to get out of bed. She mostly lays on her side day after day, night after night, year after year. She has not left her home in the last 5 years. I noticed a large infected sore on her left but- tock. On the right, this old woman of 89 years old lives with her husband and daughter. The daughter sells lottery tickets to bring home food for her family. This old woman lives by herself. The Vietnamese government sponsors old people $2,000,000 VND (approx $100 USD) to get by. Every time she leaves her home, thieves in her village strip her clean of her possessions. They stole her roof, her siding, her mattress, and her water pump (right). She patched up the holes in her home with tarp and old clothes. I’m surprised she still has a door! spect. I admire the people of Can Tho for their kindness, their per- severance, their livelihood, and their defiant faith and optimism. 13
  14. 14. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English We rode our scooters to the rural areas to deliver our new year presents to the locals. Our modest gesture was well received and appreciated by all the locals. Their toothless smiles confirms it! I would do it over and over again. After packing and wrapping the rice cakes, we had to steam them in the large pot (I didn’t know such large one existed) for 14 hours! The ugly ones are mine. Together with all the children of OBV, we made “Banh Chung”, a traditional Vietnamese sticky rice cake to give to the poor villagers of Can Tho. We coupled it with a “red envelope” containing $100,000 VND as a nice ges- ture for Vietnamese New Years. Even though the girls have been through hell and back, they acknowledged that they are lucky to now be respected and cherished in the presence of a warm and loving family. They were glad to give back to people in need and were also so eager to outdo me! They won of course, because my cakes turned out terribly! Angela 14
  15. 15. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English A little bit of Christmas 12-17-2015 OBV Malaysia had the pleasure to work in conjunc- tion with SUKA and Association of Women Lawyers to bring a little holiday cheer to Rembau children detention center. Despite the long drive out, the day was considered a success for the girls, the house mothers, and all volunteers. We arrived on site and checked in with the security guard.  Rem- bau children detention center is a compound with different sections: drug addicts, trafficked minors, and illegal domestic workers are only some of the occupants here. Today, we would be visiting the house for trafficked minors: girls aged new born to 18. The house typically has up to 70 girls, however today, there were only 12 left (and a 2-month baby boy, born to one of the girls, and had been ‘booked’ for his organs to be taken upon birth!). I was told most of the other girls who previ- ously lived here were able to have their paperwork sorted out and were taken back home. As our car rolled to a stop, the girls stuck their curious heads out the front door. Shyly they started to step outside towards us, and when they recognized Olivia and the two sisters, their faces lit up. “Salamat pagi! Salamat datang!” they chorused, running over to help unload the car. Younger girls fussed over the presents, older girls helped bring in the rice and Christmas tree. Malaysia in itself is a diverse coun- try, with the average person speak- ing 2 or 3 languages, a combination of Bahasa Malay, English, Mandarin and Tamil. This detention centre also had girls from Vietnam and Myanmar, so there were at least 5 languages being spoken at any time that day.  Together, we put up the tree, while Sister Marysol played Christmas carols on her ukulele. By the time the other volunteers from Suka and Association of Women Lawyers came through, we were ready to really get the party started. With the myriad of nationalities and lan- guages, we were able to belt out ‘Jingle Bells’ in English, Vietnam- ese, Chinese and Bahaha Malay. Our girls from Myanmar, despite not having any known Burmese lyr- ics for the song, still clapped and danced along. We were actually warned before- hand by the house mothers that they would have to screen our lyrics to ensure our carols were not too focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. This was fair, considering it was a Muslim-run establishment. How- ever, all our carols passed the test, and by the end, even the house mothers were singing their hearts out! Besides Christmas carols, the girls were given ‘team building’ exercis- es such as ‘human knot’ and ‘Chi- nese whispers’. The Association of Women Lawyers also gifted each girl with a Loom kit, and the girls sat and made fancy bracelets and other loom jewelry. The Journey to Malaysia... To understand human trafficking, one must immerse oneself into one of the major hubs for the buying and selling of humans: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysia’s trafficked victims are sold as domestic workers, sexual slaves and organ farms. Victims can be as young as 3 months, to as old as 60 years old. Kuala Lumpur is one of my favourite cities to visit, for shopping, eating and clubbing. I never knew or even imagined that underneath that facade lay a darker working class. While I still love KL for it’s melting pot of cultures, I now have a deeper understanding of how not everything is always as it appears to be. 15
  16. 16. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English Unfortunately we weren’t able to get a catering company out to the detention center, as it’s quite far out. Instead, for lunch, we feasted on KFC, and Nasi Ayam. Delicious, regardless, and the girls were very happy. Finally, it was time for gifts! While another round of Feliz Navi- dad and Jingle Bells played in the background, Santa (a volunteer) passed out gifts to the girls and to the staff for their cooperation in the day. Each girl was gifted with a ted- dy bear, a bath towel, candy bars and general hygiene products.... things many of us take for granted. It was an extremely humbling ex- perience to be a part of a warm and fun day for girls whose future remains unclear. Of course, to im- prove for the next event, OBV will endeavor to work more closely with SUKA and Association of Women Lawyers to come up with a more detailed schedule, with back up activities, to ensure that we are all in sync and ready for any situation that may arise.  Despite very few hiccups in the day, it was still a success, where just for those brief hours, the girls could smile, sing, and dance, forget their troubles and lose themselves to the festivities. Because we all need a little bit of Christmas sometimes. An OBV Christmas 12-18-2015 OBV-Malaysia, along with SUKA organized a Christmas party for the ladies of Rumah Wani- ta detention centre. Similar to the party we had held the previous day for the youths, we fo- cused on music, team building ex- ercises, a feast, and of course, pres- ents from Santa. The ladies at this detention centre do not have an easy life. Many were forced into prostitution. But they are strong and positive women, who have toughed it out and work towards a better future for them- selves. There is always a difference when working with ‘older’ women, com- pared to minors. Remember, these are women who have seen things, and experienced things we could not even imagine. It is with little wonder, then, that they looked at us suspiciously as we set up for the party. It was not surprising, that they were not as open to the idea of sharing Christmas with strang- ers. Who were we? What did we want from them? There is also the matter of pride, the whole ‘I don’t need your pity or charity’ way of thinking that many of these women seem to possess. But the human heart is an amazing thing. With a lot of smiles and en- couragement, they slowly warmed up to us. Laughter started to ring out, voices got louder as they joined 16
  17. 17. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English in with games and songs. Conversa- tions began as slowly they opened up to us. After a few rounds of Christmas classics including Jingle Bells, Silent Night, Jungle Bell Rock, Feliz Navi- dad and Mary’s Boy Child, the la- dies took over and shared with us their hidden musical talents. The Thai ladies sang tradi- tional Thai songs while one played the guitar and another beat the drums. The Vietnamese women also stepped up and gave us Vietnamese versions of Christmas tunes. But what surprised ev- eryone was, despite not speaking the same lan- guage or understand- ing each other 100% of the time, they came to- gether to sing a heartfelt harmony of Shontelle’s ‘Impossible’ and One Direction’s ‘That’s what makes you beautiful’. The day ended with lunch, catered by a local restaurant, presents from Santa, more laughs and smiles. OBV were proud to be a part of this experience, and we can only hope we improve and make each Christ- mas equally as enjoyable. The Breath of Life 12-18-2015 The average person breathes 16 breaths per minute, equaling 960 breaths per hour, 23,040 breaths in a day. These are useless facts that we all take for granted every day, some- thing we don’t even notice, until it’s taken away. Such is the case with Nhi*, a Viet- namese working girl in Kuala Lum- pur, Malaysia. A prostitute is exposed to many things that many of us seldom think of: besides putting herself through degrading acts, violence and psy- chological abuse, she also exposes herself to the risk of HIV, other STI’s and pregnancy. Nhi has been in hospital for about 2 months now. The doctor confirmed Nhi has turberculosis (TB) of the throat and lymph nodes, a highly contagious bacterial infection that can be spread through the air, and in this case had also caused a sec- ondary TB-meningitis infection in her brain, causing poor Nhi to fall into a coma for 5 days. When we visited Nhi just before Christmas, her 32kg frame strug- gled to lift herself up into sitting po- sition. Her lips were dry from lack of water -- she told us that it hurt her throat too much to drink or eat -- and she wheezed and gasped for air. It is clear the TB has not im- proved. Nhi is over the age of 18 and there- fore does not qualify for OBV assis- tance. However, with no family in Malaysia, and all her friends now long gone, it was only the right thing to come and visit with Christ- mas presents to raise her sprits. In fact, there have even been ques- tions as to why any charity should help her at all. After all...she ac- tively chose to be a prostitute. But 17
  18. 18. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English one must understand that there are many layers to every story. Nhi moved to Malaysia with the promises of a proper job. She took it, with every intention being to send all her earnings back to Viet- nam to support her family and chil- dren. Echoing the story of many other victims we have encoun- tered, Nhi’s job could not make her enough to even pay for board. As a result, she turned to prostitution to pay off her debts that had accrued for the short time she was there. Girls who are promised one job, only to be tricked and cheated and forced into prostitution...are they not considered trafficked girls as well??  Nhi has a rough path ahead of her. Once she can breathe unassisted, and the doctors deem her TB under control, she will integrate herself back into the community. With any lucky, the legalities for her situation will be sorted and she will be able to be reunited with her family in Vietnam. Until then, we have faith that each breath Nhi takes leads her to the path of recovery. Note: Names have been changed to protect the privacy of victims of It’s amazing what the power of hope can do. It’s amazing what the power of hope can do. 1-29-2016 A little over a month 18 ago, I visited a survivor of trafficking in a hospital in Kuala Lumpur. Nhi* had contracted TB (Turberculosis) of the throat and lymph nodes. Weighing a tiny 29-30kg, she could barely talk, and would wheeze out a sentence, gasping for breath be- tween each word. On that trip, I learnt that the doc- tor who was treating Nhi at the time, was not very open with her results. We asked if she was going to die, and he provided a vague answer that was neither here nor there. However, a new doctor had been assigned to her case. The first lot of good news was that Nhi had tested negative for HIV, at least for the moment. This gave us hope that she would be able to fight on her own. The question was, would she want to? “What are you looking forward to?” I had asked her. She looked at me, longing in her eyes and answered simply “I want to go home”. We asked the new doctor if she was going to die, or if she had a chance of living. She replied positively, and we immediately told Nhi. “You have to do everything the doc- tor says,” we urged her. “Make sure you take all your medicine. Make sure you walk a little every day so you can grow stronger….then when you are strong enough, the doctor said you can go home!” Moving forward, it is now the week before Lunar new year. I went to visit Nhi again. Although not notice- able, she has gained 2 kilos, and is now sitting at 32kg. Still unbearably thin, but progress, despite slow, is still progress. Animatedly she told us about what she had been up to. I mean, in all fairness, when you are confined to a hospital room there isn’t much she could possibly get up to, but she told us she had been walking around twice a day, and starting to crave food. She had downloaded a load of photos of food, to make sure when she got back to Vietnam she would remember to eat them. She hoped to open a restaurant and cook all the foods she was craving. It was amazing to see the transfor- mation between the two periods of time in which I saw Nhi. The first time she just simply couldn’t be bothered. And this time….this time she was full of energy, full of hope. A quick chat to the doctor said that yes, she was improving slowly, day by day. But the reality of TB is that many patients are in hospital for up to 9 months and then bedridden at home for up to another year before they make a full recovery. Nhi still has a long journey ahead, but this time I have good feelings. This time she’s got hope from my- self in her corner, too. Jacqueline Huynh
  19. 19. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English AUSTRALIA (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) - October FUNDRAISING 2015 Canada (Toronto) - November 19
  20. 20. Newsletter Volume 10 Newsletter Volume 10 English 3rd Annual Fundraising from Houston-OBV Group November 2015 We prepared months in advance Thanks to the supporters for many auction items Bidding Enjoying meals drawing raffle tickets Thank you for our Houston team, Bid4Real, and all other supporters who helped us raise over $167,000!! OBV free gifts 20