Scars

Written by: 

L., Trafficking Survivor in Resident at Pacific Links Foundation (PALS)'s Lao Cai Compassion House, Translated by PALS Team

 

June 30, 2016

 

When I was 12 years old, I dropped out of school because my parents constantly fought, so each person went their separate way. I had to live with my foster mother, who lives far away. When I was nearly 14 years old, my friend’s acquaintance invited us to work far, so we followed this person who led us to the Hanoi bus station and assigned us to a middle-aged women and said that this woman would take care of us.

 

This woman picked us up in a bus that led us very far. We passed many different vehicles, then we came to one big house (later I discovered that we had crossed over to China). She made us become prostitutes, and anyone who refused was beaten. We were imprisoned with over 20 other women who had also refused and were severely beaten.

 

Every time there was an opportunity for us to find a way to escape, we tried to take advantage of it. The third time we tried, however, the owners hacked off one girl's head and made us stay in the room with the bloody corpse all night. After that incident, no one dared to try to escape anymore...

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Every time we tried to escape, we got caught and were beaten, had cigarettes burned onto our skin, and were tattooed with the owner's code on our hands.

 

I was a prostitute for almost a year before the Chinese police raided and dismantled the establishment, rescued us from prostitution, and repatriated us back home.

 

Currently I am studying sewing, but my eyes are very poor and I often have headaches. Sometimes I experience moments of blindness and can't see clearly, probably due to previous injuries sustained from the times I tried to escape and was hit on my head and eyes. Therefore, my intention now is to learn how to be a hairdresser and wash hair to lessen the use of my eyes and mathematical calculations.

 

This year, I'll turn 16!

A Returnee's Story

Written by: 

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, Translated by PALS Team 

 

June 22, 2016

 

At 6 years old, M already knew how to cook. At 7 years old, she learned how to embroider. As orphans, M and her siblings went their separate ways, following anyone who could raise them. M lived with her relatives. She knew how to do laborious work from a young age but was regularly beaten until her ears bled.

 

At 15 years old, M was tricked into crossing the border and sold as a bride to an old Chinese man. After 2 months, while her husband was intoxicated, M and a neighbor in the same situation jumped from the apartment window and ran away. Her friend dislocated her leg when she jumped. The two faced difficulties in the following days hiding, only daring to find and eat melons in the middle of the night to satisfy their hunger. When they were completely exhausted and hopeless, both were lucky to come across a group of construction workers who took them to the police station...

 

 M blog June 2016

 

Currently, M is a member of our Lao Cai Compassion House. For the first time, she is learning how to read and write. She is also learning how to sew. M dreams of becoming a good seamstress and opening up her own store!

Do you know anyone who was trafficked?

Written by: 

Christina Phương Chi Bùi

 

March 10, 2016

 
While outreaching at Bac Ha Market in Lào Cai Province to spread awarness about and to prevent human trafficking, we asked a simple question: Do you know anyone who was trafficked? 
 
 

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A huge crowd of people surrounded us and, one by one, told us how their family members and friends went to China and never came back or have not been able to get in touch with them. 
 
A 78-year-old woman's married daughter was unhappy with her husband, left and went to China to seek a better life 5 years ago and hasn't returned since.
 
A 20-year-old man's younger sister's boyfriend invited her to go to the city several months ago and never returned. 
 
A 30-year-old woman's older sister lived in poverty, so she went to China to look for work and left her 5-year-old child behind. Four years later, no one still has any information about her or have heard from her. 
 
A 20-year-old man's older sister was sick and went back and forth between Vietnam and China to seek treatment. Each time she returned to Vietnam, she became sicker. About a year ago, she went to China and hasn't come back home.
 

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One thread connects these stories: people want to seek better lives for themselves and their families. 
 
We suspect that these family members and friends may have be trafficked. Sometimes human trafficking doesn't involve being kidnapped. Sometimes people place trust or believe in the wrong people, and traffickers use that to their advantage. And in the remote, mountainous region of Vietnam, it's easy to get lost or unknowingly cross the border to China. For this reason, we hold outreach events to raise awareness about protecting yourself and your community from being exploited. 
 

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