As I was completing my year-end tasks and runnning some errands on the days leading up to the Lunar New Year (Tết), the OBV HOTLINE rang. I picked up the phone and answered, "Hello, this is OBV."
On the other end, there was a bit of silence before they replied, "Is this Fr. Martino Thông's phone number?"
By the time you read this news, our OBV family has operated in Malaysia. I would like to share a little background behind the work that led to our presence in Malaysia.
From Singapore... Almost every time the "undercover team" went "to work" in Singapore, we would stop over in Malaysia. It's like "a rest stop" or "a waiting post" to avoid being monitored by the opposition group. Fearing the team members would "feel inconveniently idle," I always supported and encouraged their "tourist outing" trips there. Consequently, OBV knows quite well the sex trafficking situation in Malaysia. However, we didn't have any plan to operate there because we didn't have the resources and money!
A phone call that changed everything... Around October, 2014, Fr. HC Nguyen called me: "Bá Thông – Need your help rescuing the children sold as sex slaves in Malaysia." He introduced me to a Vietnamese ("person") living in Malaysia, who was visiting family in Orange County, California.
Nepalese schoolgirl Susmita Kami, centre, 16, at school in Simikot, the headquarters of Humla district, on November 6, 2014. Three years ago, the teenager escaped from a forced marriage and begged her parents not to send her back as she wanted a better life. Prakash Methema/AFP Photo
February 4, 2015
SIMIKOT, NEPAL // On a freezing night three years ago, 13-year-old Susmita Kami sneaked out of her husband's house and did not stop running until she reached her parent's doorstep in Nepal's remote northwest.
Her escape from a forced marriage –– a tradition many teenage girls from the Himalayan nation's Dalit community are expected to uphold –– was soon under threat.
But Susmita's parents resisted demands from her in-laws to send her back, deciding to stand by their pleading daughter who desperately wanted a better life.
Ash Wednesday – Also the last day of the year for the Vietnamese Calendar! Tomorrow "we" (Vietnamese) begin our new year! I am taking a little times out of this very busy day to thanks:
1. The Almighty God – who has wonderfully created me and blessed and continued to protect me!
2. My parents who always support of my calling to serve others – that also means no one will take care of them in their old age!
3. The benefactors of OBV family – I do not know what to do without you!
"Sex Trafficking in the USA" Episode 1 focuses on survivors trafficked into a life of prostitution in the U.S., as well as effective programs that combat commercial sexual exploitation and restore lives. Nicholas Kristof joins Ashley Judd, Blake Lively, and Malin Akerman in Nashville, Boston, and Chicago to illuminate the widespread existence of crimes happening in our own backyard.
To speak true, the OBV family didn't expect to receive special praise like that. However, two employees from Suka Society in Malaysia still paid a visit to the family to express admiration for them. The visits also shows gratitude and acknowledgement to the two guests, who are preparing to join the OBV family in their meaningful work in Malaysia.
Even though Miss Cecil and Miss Sara stayed with our family for only one day, our children still had a chance to practice their English a little bit. Moreover, in such a limited time, Cecil and Sara still gave our family some positive feedback for our future enhancement:
It's Saturday, and the Embassy is closed; however, because of some incidents happended by misunderstanding after our previous trip to Malaysia, the chief security officer of the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia had arranged time to meet with Fr. Martino Ba-Thong Nguyen (OBV Founder), Dr. John Duy-An Nguyen (OBV President), and OBV Malaysia repreesentative at 9:00am January 30th, 2105. We are grateful for the opportunity to present OBV mission and works in different countries in Southeast Asia, and the possibility to work with the US authority in different countries on human trafficking. We also learned how to be properly protected by the US Government while working in foreign countries, how to efficiently work with international agencies as well as different governements through proper channels.
Although Ukrainian trafficking victims were told they would gain legal entry in the U.S., they were routinely smuggled through Mexico using temporary tourist visas like this one.
The young Ukrainian men and women—many of them out of work and with few prospects—were promised good-paying jobs in the United States. But instead of living the American dream, they were thrust into a nightmare of violence, threats, and forced servitude.
For years, five brothers who ran a human trafficking organization victimized dozens of unwitting Ukrainians, underscoring the reality that modern-day slavery exists in the United States and around the world—and requires a strong response by governments and law enforcement.