When you supported this Hagar project, you gave new life to Vietnamese women from impossible backgrounds. Women like Diep:
Diep was born into poverty. Like so many others in rural Vietnam, she was essentially destined to a life of hardship and pain. Her family grew rice and because her mother remarried—divorce is unheard of in most Southeast Asian countries—Diep was stigmatized within her community. This shame resulted in her never being allowed to go to school.
When she was still young, Diep moved in with her boyfriend. Her family disapproved of their relationship and refused to let her marry him. Nevertheless, they had two children together but due to a lack of education and job opportunities, could only afford to keep one. Struggling to deal with such impossible decisions, Diep’s boyfriend acquired a taste for alcohol and began to abuse her. She eventually left him but in order to do so also had to leave behind their son.
Unfortunately, Diep’s life only continued to get worse. She was tricked into being trafficked to neighboring China where she became a prisoner in the home of her new “husband”. Throughout the year she lived with him, she was only allowed to leave the house once. Somehow Diep escaped and managed to return to Vietnam and she became connected with Hagar.
“For most of my life I’ve had nothing—no family, no job and no idea how to change my circumstances,” Diep reflected. “But Hagar has given me a second chance.”
Diep is currently working with Hagar staff to set education and career goals that will help her achieve the future she desires. And as she noted, “The life I deserve.”
Thuy’s abuse began the moment she was conceived. Her mother was unmarried and her father was a criminal. She was born unwanted - her very existence brought shame to her family in Vietnam. “As early as I can remember, I was beaten and humiliated.”
Thuy was raised like one of the family’s animals. She ate pig slop. Her clothes were dipped in manure. At 15, she was sexually abused by her cousin. Unable to take it anymore, Thuy ran away. A social worker directed her to Hagar.
When she completed vocational training, Hagar staff helped Thuy find a job at a bakery. She is now a supervisor and trains new employees. She was even nominated as Employee of the Year!
“Things are getting better for me now. Before, I didn’t trust other people because of my past - I feel stronger now. Hagar helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses.”
With her newfound confidence and independence, Thuy wanted to reconcile with her family. By choice, she moved back home. At first, it was like old times, and they abused her emotionally and physically. Twice she considered moving out, but with Hagar’s help, she learned to communicate better.
Now, she feels strong enough to stand on her own and deal with her family problems. Her relationships are improving. She and her father talk over issues.
“I am a grown up now and I can take care of myself, but it does not mean that I don’t want my family.”
Not long ago Tahmina*, a 16-year-old girl, was living quite happily with her mother, father and sister in a southern Afghan village. Unjustly accused of having an affair, Tahmina was punished for the crime. With the help of her father and sister, she was able to escape and found refuge at Hagar. Her journey continues as she finds hope and renewed value. Here is her story, in her words:
I didn’t have an affair. But that didn’t matter. There was a sham trial, a false conviction, and a brutal flogging.
But not for the man who accused me, or the man accused along with me. They both went home unharmed. I was the one who went home in agony.
And it wasn’t just once. They came back again the next day. I fled, but the welts came with me—along with the anger. It was so injust.
When I first got to Hagar, even though I was safe, I picked fights. I was so bored and alone.
But that was only at first. Now, I am so grateful to be learning new things. Now I am being trained and am remembering that I have value—because my trainers value me as a person. With the training, I know I'll be able to get a job and support myself. I know that soon I will be free to live a better life.
When you support this project -- Transform Lives of Afghanistan's Most Forgotten -- you bring hope and better futures to more women like Tahmina.
*not her real name