Fifteen dollars (250,000 VND) changed Xuan’s* life. Growing up, Xuan endured severe beatings from her alcoholic father and step-father. One day the beatings were so bad, she ran away to an internet café, where no one could find her. Two days later, the internet café gave her a $15.00 internet bill.
Coming from a family of poor farmers, a $15.00 bill was impossible for Xuan to pay. Xuan heard about an online rescue services that would help her pay her debt, so she contacted them. A young woman, Nga, came and paid her bill. In exchange, she said they would arrange work for Xuan at a souvenir shop on the Chinese border, where she could make $50.00 in a month. Hearing this, Xuan agreed.
Nga bought her new clothes and took her to get a haircut. Ten hours later, they crossed the border into China. They stopped in building and Xuan was told to wait, alone in a room. Nga never returned. A Chinese man appeared and told Xuan that he bought her for 20,000,000 VND ($1,000.00). This is how Xuan was trafficked.
At first, Xuan was very confused. She didn’t understand what was happening and begged to call her mother. She and many other girls were taken deeper into China and separated into brothels.
In the brothel, she was forced to serve customers and became very sick over time. One day, she heard a women speaking Vietnamese. She went to find her and begged for help. The women called the police in Vietnam and they rescued her.
Now, Xuan has found refuge at the Center for Women and Development and Hagar in Vietnam. She is beginning to heal through counseling services and is receiving job training, so she can be employed with Hagar’s enterprise and business partners.
Xuan describes her journey stating:
Before, my life was like a lifeless tree, weak and scared, without sun or water. At Hagar, I’m slowly learning about myself and feeling better. Though I still feel very sad about my life, my tree is growing strong with strengths I’ve found within myself, despite the terrible things that have happened to me. There are thousands of girls that are trafficked like me. I was one of the lucky ones who made it out.