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Vietnamese woman reunited with family 24 years after being sold to China

Saturday, July 20, 2019, 07:52 GMT+7
Vietnamese woman reunited with family 24 years after being sold to China
Le Thi Lan (L,2nd) reunites with her family in the north-central Vietnamese province of Nghe An on July 18, 2019. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

A Vietnamese woman hailing from the north-central province of Nghe An has finally been reunited with her family after spending the past 24 years in China as a victim of human trafficking.

Le Thi Lan, now 43 years old, returned to her home in Nghi Thinh Commune, Nghi Loc District on Thursday afternoon.

Both Lan and her mother, along with other relatives, were in tears when they finally embraced after spending more than two decades apart.

Despite the scorching weather, many neighbors also gathered at Lan’s house to witness the emotional family reunion and applaud her return.

Le Thi Lan and her moher, Nguyen Thi Lien, cry as they see each other for the first time in 24 years. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

Le Thi Lan and her moher, Nguyen Thi Lien, cry as they see each other for the first time in 24 years. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

“It’s really you, Lan. I thought I would never see you again,” Nguyen Thi Lien, the 69-year-old mother, said the moment they met.

Many things have changed in the neighborhood since the day Lan left, but the biggest – and most difficult to accept – changes are the passing of her father and younger brother.

Upon entering the house, Lan tried her best to hold back her tears as she lit incense to pay her last respects to her late family members.

Lan pays respect to her late father and younger brother at her home. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

Lan pays respects to her late father and younger brother at her home. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

Victim of human trafficking

In 1995, then-19-year-old Lan was tricked by a local woman into being sold to a Chinese man in Guangxi, China for CNY3,000 (US$436). 

She became the man’s wife but was later sold to several other men in the East Asian country.

“I could not speak Chinese and had no idea how to return home, thus I had to accept my fate,” Lan recounted.

“There has never been a moment when I did not miss my family, my hometown, and my country.”

In early July of this year, Lan met another female Vietnamese victim of human trafficking and the two decided to create a video and upload it to social media to help Lan find her family.

Lan greets neighbors in her hometown. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

Lan greets neighbors in her hometown. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

In the video, Lan could barely speak proper Vietnamese, but she was able to remember her parents’ names and address in Nghe An Province.

Dang Thi Thao, Lan’s younger sister-in-law, was the first person in the family to see the video. She then told Lien and the other family members.

“We reported Lan missing in 1995, but no one could find her,” Le Thi Hue, Lan’s younger sister explained.

“We convinced ourselves that she had left the family to focus on a job elsewhere.”

Lan holds her nephew for the first time. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

Lan holds her nephew for the first time. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

Hue added that there were moments when she thought she had lost her big sister forever.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Thanh Hai, an official from the Nghe An Department of Police, the agency, upon being notified of the situation, immediately began working with relevant agencies to reunite Lan with her family.

Officers have also collected statements from the woman to assist their investigation into the human trafficking operation, Lt. Col. Hai stated.

Lan receives a gift from the provincial Department of Police during the family reunion. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

Lan receives a gift from the provincial Department of Police during the family reunion. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

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