The House of Compassion

This post is also available in: Vietnamese

In Lao Cai, in the mountainous North of Vietnam, live ten girls in a small house of rescue.  When I visited recently to announce the opening of “Compassion House”, which we have funded, I heard one of these girls tell a gathering of officials and friends the story of how she had been “trafficked” to China, and sold into marriage at the age of thirteen. 

Ambassador Stokes opened the Compassion House in Lao Cai, June 2013.

Ambassador Stokes opened the Compassion House in Lao Cai, June 2013.

Britain and Vietnam are working together to tackle this sort of crime, which also impacts directly on Britain because many boys are now trafficked from Vietnam to help grow cannabis illegally there.  International cooperation is crucial.

Many boys and young men leave Vietnam with high hopes of gaining a decent income to help support their families here.  But some fall into the hands of criminals, who bully them into working on drug farms by physical threats and the prospect of having to repay debts incurred for “travel expenses”.  They usually end up arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned or deported.

The Vietnamese Government takes this seriously, and last year ratified the UN Convention Against Organised Crime and its Human Trafficking Protocol.  I am grateful to the agencies involved for working closely with us.  We want to support them in using the UN Convention to stop the exploitation of children, whether of boys or of girls.

In Lao Cai, I was pleased to see that the young girl who spoke up had made good friends with her fellow victims, and at least for a year or two they would be able to stay together in the new shelter.  But her worry, she said, was what would happen to the other girls left behind?

2 Responses

  1. Ingo-Steven Wais says:

    Dear Antony,
    1st. of all : I ´m always surprised because of the variety/diversity of your proper/excellent reports. As well as yr. “working-system ” in which you choose yr. topics. That ´s – in my opinion – just great..(and gives me a lot of background-infos !). But this time it´s “The House of Compassion”. So pls. let me just write some few lines. Most notable, most shocking is to me, that it ´s still possible, that girls can be “sold” into “a marriage”. Sad fact is also to me , that you don ´t read about such cases in the “official” British and German news-magazines. And very , very seldom via TV ( I.e. BBC Channel 4 or their worldwide special partner, ARD Hamburg ). So it ´s a sign of little hope if Britain and S.R. Vietnam want to work within the context of a close co – operation – to solve such a disgusting problem like abusing “Teeny – Old ” Girls & Boys ! Therefore : Int ´l co-oüeration isn ´t only “crucial”. It should be a big “MUST” ! Another hope of mine is also this well-described UN-Convention against the exploitation of children. On one side it ´s nice to get informed, that at least one young teenage girl of
    LAO CAI has made few but also reliable fellow friends . and – I just don ´t like it , to end in such a NEGATIVE way . So pls. let me conclude like this :
    “What would happen to the other girls (and boys…!) …left behind ? Well, just ´cause Great Britain and S.R. Vietnam are working so hard to tackle this sort of crime , if the Vietnamese Gov. takes it so seriously : The victims “left behind” will surely also find few but “real-good” friends!
    Very suitable to this is a saying by Hegel : ” Wenn Du Freunde suchst, dann Echte. Denn es gubt allzu viele kriminelle Schlechte – If you look and need real friends , than you ´ll find one. Have patience and be carefully – for you could fall in a trap and might find friend , very “wrong”.
    Best wishes, liebe Grüßle, Ingo-Steven Wais, Stuttgart/Wuerttemberg.

  2. Good Will.. says:

    This is a very compelling report. I hope the resqued ladies would settle in comfortably in their new nest.

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