A Vietnamese man has for the past six years helped a number of fellow-country women trafficked to China return to Vietnam and given information of the victims to their families.
Nguyen Van Dung, a native in the northern city of Hai Phong, has lived away from his mother for 25 years since she was sold to China, but he was lucky to meet her in person on several occasions.
The personal situation has motivated him to bring back Vietnamese women deceived or forced into entering the northern neighboring country back to their homeland.
The 31-year-old recalled that in 1993 he came home from the kindergarten only to discover that his mother and older sister had disappeared.
Only later did he and the relatives know that the two had been sold to China along with another villager.
“Between 1993 and 1999, my family got no news of my mom and sister. In 1999, my mom came back to Vietnam for the first time. She looked gaunt and black, unlike the mother I could remember,” he said.
She had to move to take care of a child she bore in China, Dung said.
After graduating from high school in 2005, he saved money and embarked on multiple trips to find her, but ended up in vain.
Three years later he obtained a telephone number of a person living in the same foreign village as his mother, brought over VND300,000 (US$13) and arrived in Guangxi, a Chinese region bordering Vietnam, and called her.
The reunion brimmed with mixed feelings, and the mother was much older, thinner and blacker than she was about 10 years earlier.
Dung said that the mother suffered many hardships, eating mainly rice porridge and pickled vegetables, wearing well-worn plastic shoes and living near a dusty dirt road.
During his subsequent visits to her, Dung met many more Vietnamese women trafficked to China between 1988 and 1993.
|A Vietnamese woman trafficked to China (C) and her two daughters. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
He cooperated with a group of journalists from state-run Vietnam Multimedia Corporation (VTC) for a month, before the 2018 Vietnamese Lunar New Year, to find such women in China and persuade them to return to their homeland, with the result that four Vietnamese over 60 years old had a teary reunion with their families after more than 30 years of separation.
Dung remained silent and declined to answer questions from newspapers during the entire meeting.
He stayed awake the night before the women’s trip to Vietnam, worrying that they would not set foot on the country again due to problems with personal documents.
Tam Diep, a VTC reporter who worked with Dung, said the greatest hindrance to his effort was that the women felt afraid that they would be cheated for a second time, with some still unwilling to be back even though their relatives directly visited them.
Dung said that after the above reunion, many Vietnamese victims sold to China made phone calls to him, asking him to give them a comeback opportunity.
“They are all old, have neither passports nor ID cards,” he said.
“Bringing them home would be very difficult. But I’m happy to see them back.
“The family of one of the four women who had been brought back the last Lunar New Year lost touch with her since 1988. They built a grave for her, and chose the date of her departure from Vietnam as the death anniversary. Now they know she’s still alive. I hope to see many more such family reunions.
“Out of every ten Vietnamese women I met in China, nine wished to die in the motherland. Although the cause of bringing them back wasn’t easy, I hoped to give them each a chance to go back home.”