The scars of spending half a lifetime in slavery

Huong has spent longer in slavery than she has been able to enjoy freedom. The 43-year-old mother of two was trafficked to China when she was 20 years old. With the support of Blue Dragon, she was finally able to return to Vietnam two weeks ago.

Huong didn’t have an easy childhood. Born by the coast in northern Vietnam, she grew up in poverty and had a complicated relationship with her family. Those struggles even drove Huong to run away from home when she was just 12 years old.

A few years later, Huong was deceived by one of her family members, who persuaded her to go to China. She’d fallen prey to human trafficking.

On the other side of the border, Huong was sold as a bride and became the ‘wife’ of a man she’d never met. He kept her for 23 years, until on May 11, she returned to Vietnam with the assistance of Blue Dragon.

A difficult choice

After more than two decades trapped in slavery, in the midst of a pandemic, Huong’s situation changed. She was rescued by the authorities. She could finally return home.

But for Huong, that decision wasn’t so simple. During her ‘marriage’, Huong had a son and a daughter who are now in their teens and who she loves very much. And so, whether she chose to stay or to leave, there would be something she had to give up: her children or her home. A terrible choice for any mother to be forced to make.

Deeply torn, Huong eventually made the decision to go back to Vietnam, and the authorities contacted Blue Dragon to assist in her repatriation.

Blue Dragon will help Huong obtain her Vietnamese legal documents, in order for her to have official identification and access to basic services and support from the authorities in Vietnam. If she is willing, when she is ready, we will help her reunite with her family as well.

A torn identity

The first thing the Blue Dragon psychologist noticed when she met Huong was her difficulty to communicate. She has been away from Vietnam for so long that she barely remembers her mother tongue. Huong’s never-ending ordeal has torn her identity, and her healing journey is a long road ahead.

As it frequently happens with survivors of trauma, for Huong some parts of her ordeal are just a blur. The Blue Dragon psychologists are working with Huong to put together all the pieces of her story. There are parts she can’t remember, and others she has chosen to forget.

Delving into the many layers of her pain will take Huong time, patience, and courage. It won’t be easy, but Blue Dragon will be there for her on every step of the way. 

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