Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Vietnam:
On the morning of April 11, I visited Hagar International’s office in Hanoi, Vietnam and was hosted by Kelly, Program Development Manager, and staff. The day started off with visiting Hagar’s main office and meeting staff. We sat down to discuss the staff’s backgrounds, current work, and challenges. I learned about the impact of Hagar, the spearheading of Hagar’s case management and social work within the field for future social workers, and goals for Hagar.
I asked the staff to share the most rewarding part of working at Hagar. One said working with the women, and when the survivor shares that it is the first time someone listens to her. Another said that Hagar is a place people can be and can cultivate themselves - where one can be authentic. Working there makes them feel proud - where each person feels like they are making a difference. Another staff member said being part of a learning organization. It’s not just about the numbers, but about each individual client.
Next we went to visit Joma Café, where Hagar survivors are able to receive on-the-job training in hospitality, and met some of the empowered women. I met with 2 women – one who had been with Hagar for about 1 year and half and another who was with Hagar for about 10 months. Let’s say their names are Sara and Mary (to protect their identities).
I asked them both why Joma and hospitality? Sara said she thought it was popular, easy to get a job and opportunity, and to meet people. Mary said she liked cooking. Before she cooked at the shelter and was good at it. I then asked if they would like to continue at Joma, and Mary said she hoped to work in her hometown to open a small business. Sara said she wanted to stay with Joma to increase experience and English. Finally, I asked if they weren’t with Hagar and Joma where would they be? Mary said it would have been difficult to find a job because she lacked skill sets. Sara said before she wasn’t able to learn life skills, vocational training, and not able to be recruited. It would have been way more challenging. Without support like this from Hagar, they don’t know where their future would be.
After, I asked if they had any questions for me, and both shrugged. Then Mary stopped, looked at me and said “I never thought I would have an opportunity like this. I want to thank GlobalGiving.”
Through protection, personal well-being, economic empowerment, and social capital women are able to not only survive trafficking but be empowered in their lives to move forward, create a positive and thriving life, and not be a victim.
There are good days, and there are bad days...when you work in recovery. For 3 years, Agnes Lam has lead our Vietnam office. Even after years of serving traumatized women, some cases still feel overwhelming. This week, a young woman was referred to Hagar Vietnam with an extremely complex background of abuse. Here's a raw glimpse of what it's like to work in the field from Agnes:
"Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse. It did. We've recently been referred a very severe case of a young woman from the countryside.
Cases like this are haunting. For me, it brings up so many questions about humanity and spirituality.
Where do you even start?"
This case illustrates the growing number of severely abused and trafficked women and children who are coming into Hagar's care in Vietnam. Clients are becoming younger and younger. In a county where few services are available, there is great need for Hagar to serve not only more women, but also young adults and children.
Because of your support we've been able to help many women journey towards recovery, healing, wholeness. Thank you.
Read another recent exert from Agnes blog, "10 things I learned about human trafficking."
April has been an exciting and challenging month.
Violence in Afghanistan has been all over the news in April (see BBC article attached). Here's a message directly from our CEO Talmage Payne about how Hagar staff reacted to the recent violence:
"As the fighting of the last two days in Kabul quiets down, I spoke with Bronwyn Graham, Hagar Afghanistan's Country Director by phone. Hagar staff, clients and their families are all safe although a bit tired and shaken from a loud night of gunfire and rockets. One of Hagar's facilities was within one area of fighting but was unscathed. Government security was quick to check on the security of the location as fighting broke out yesterday and kept the surrounding streets clear. Hagar operations obviously change when the threat level increases but staff know what is expected and managed their roles well in keeping everyone safe. Now its time to debrief, rest and learn from how we managed under pressure. For those of you who support Hagar Afghanistan you can be very proud of the quality of the team getting " whatever it takes" done."
We are also excited to announce that Hagar Afghanistan's beautiful new transitional care center is complete. The counseling room was painted a soothing lavender earlier this month, and staff and clients are enjoying the winding stairway that leads to the top floor where there is a gorgeous view of the mountains. Despite the recent violence, this place is bringing comfort and healing to some of the most vulnerable women and girls in Afghanistan.