Empower Abused and Trafficked Vietnamese Women

by Hagar USA, which supports the work of Hagar International

In January 2016, Nhi’s husband sexually abused their two young children. After years of physical abuse towards the family, Nhi decided to run away with her son and daughter, seeking refuge at Hagar’s Recovery Centre. 

All three were experiencing high levels of trauma. Nhi was quick to anger, isolating herself when she felt depressed. Her children were hyperactive and struggled concentrating. They wouldn’t follow the rules of the centre, creating a challenge for Hagar staff.

Nhi was faced with two options. She wanted justice to be established by bringing her husband to court but she was concerned about her children’s mental and emotional health. After careful consideration and advice from Hagar’s psychologists, she decided to focus on helping her children heal and recover first. 

Today, Nhi and her children are on the road to recovery. She is learning how to help her children. Nhi was taught to recognize that children mirror emotions, so she now tries be calmer around her children so they feel safer and calm. She also is focusing on building a warm, happy and safe relationship with her son and daughter, allowing them time to heal. At times, she has difficulties to calm herself because of the trauma she herself has experienced, but she is trying to change and she witnesses change in her children as well. 

Hagar staff worked with Nhi and her children to develop a list of expected behaviors with consequences called “The way to success” for her children. They have shown positive improvements: The daughter started to say “I’m sorry” after making mistakes, brushes her teeth before going to sleep every evening and gets along with her older brother. The brother concentrates more in school and is less hyperactive. The children are now learning how to behave well based on a sense of ownership and pride instead of a reward system.

Nhi is very happy to see the positive changes in her children. They are less aggressive, more willing to listen to adults and they connect with each other better. Nhi is also becoming more active, taking initiatives and important decisions for her life. She started making toys for her children and organised an event for Hagar staff and other clients. 

Nhi is very engaged in learning English and makes impressive progress after each class because she understands how English will help her in a future career. The volunteer who is now teaching Nhi English shared: “I’m worried Nhi’s English learning capability will at some point outgrow my teaching capacity. She has something new every week, she is so engaged, and she did so well just because she wants to.”

Hagar is very proud of Nhi. She is tenacious, resilient, and she does her very best to pursue a brighter future for herself and her children. Her heart to care for her children and focus on their wellbeing has led to her fast recovery from personal trauma. 


“The best day of my life was the day I received this Hello Kitty teddy bear.  It was also a sad day because it was the day I left Hagar’s recovery programme. But I reintegrated with my family and now I feel safe and happy.”

When Bopha was only 6 years old, she was sexually abused by a man who broke into her home.

Bopha’s father was an alcoholic and had gone out to drink with friends. Their grandmother was babysitting her and her younger sister at the time while their mother went to find the father. When the perpetrator broke down the door, hitting the grandmother leaving her unable to reach for help.

As the man left the house, he threw $5 on Bopha’s bed and threatened to hurt her more if she told anyone about what he had done. At such a young age, Bopha was left hurt and in shock. When her parents came home, she told them of the abuse and they immediately went to the hospital and reported the abuse to the police. The authorities were able to trace the abuser who is now serving a 25 year sentence in the local prison.

During the four years that followed, Bopha was transferred to Hagar and lived at Hagar’s girl’s recovery centre.

“I was scared the day I arrived. I didn’t know anyone and I was still worried about strangers. But after a few days I realised I was at a safe place. I liked studying and it was fun to play outside with other children. I don’t know about their life. Some have physical marks but we never talked about why we were all there, we just smiled and played.”

Hagar’s catch up learning centre was a place of healing for Bopha. She spent weekly sessions with her case manager and counsellor, who helped her heal from her trauma through trauma informed care and art therapy. She proved to be an excellent creative student, paying attention to the teachers and helping them clean up after classes. The young shy girl who had first arrived was changing into a sweet and smiling student.

In early march 2016, Bopha was able to reintegrate into her family home, with close assistance from Hagar.  The family home is located in a very small community where everyone knows everyone. But at her new school, no one asks where Bopha has been, she is accepted and participates in class.

Her favorite outfit is still the Hagar school uniform she was provided with. Her favorite toy remains enclosed inside its original wrapping, inside a black bin bag.

“I keep it in its wrapping because it’s such a precious gift. We have never had anything like this before, and it is Bopha’s to keep. She shares it with her little sister.” says Bopha’s mother.

“Life isn’t easy. I am always worrying about my daughters’ safety. I worry that there could be more abuse in the future, so I sleep next to them both, and my husband sleeps on the floor.”She says.

Today, Bopha is a bright happy child. She helps her mother around the house with chores and loves to ride to school. Her mother ensures that she rides with a group of 6 other girls and boys from their hamlet, so they stay in a safe group. Hagar’s case manager has helped the mother understand how she should keep her daughters safe inside and outside of the family home.

On a weekly basis, the perpetrator’s aging mother comes begging to have her son released in exchange for money, apologising on his behalf. But justice has been established and although it isn’t easy to turn her away, Bopha’s mother refuses to give into the bribery.

“The truest happiness, knowing my daughters are safe”.

Hagar provides recovery services not only for clients but also their families as they reintegrate. Bopha’s recovery is still ongoing but with close monitoring, she is improving and reintegrating well. Hagar also provides counselling to Bopha’s mother who is learning on family safety and safety within the community, on how to communicate with her daughters and educate them.


Hagar Provides healing
Hagar Provides healing

Ve* is a young girl who came to Hagar in June, traumatized and lacking trust. 

Ve’s father is an alcoholic and a violent name.  For years, her father was abusive, but one night he came home drunk and raped her.  

Ve didn't know what to do.  The only think she could think of was to take her own life and almost immediately attempted to commit suicide. Her mother found her and took her to the hospital, saving her life.  After attempting suicide three more times, Ve's mother decided they needed help.  

Hagar first went to Ve's home, and found that she wouldn't speak and didn't trust anyone.  Once she came into Hagar's care she saw the staff’s sincerity and effort in reaching her. Ve has gradually entrusted Hagar and started to share her story.

After being counseled by Hagar staff, Ve has started to show improvements.  She has more self-confidence and started to feel the joy of life through simple activities such as biking, writing in her diary and talking to those people she loves. When she started to open up to others, she realized that not everybody looked down on her as she had thought. 

Ve still has a long way to go, but because of you, the staff at Hagar Vietnam will be there with her every step of the way.

*names have been changed to protect identities

Because of you Hagar was able to bring in a women named Trieu.*  Trieu is not 27 years old and came to Hagar from Malaysia.  Trieu worked in Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon) for 1 year as waitress in a karaoke bar. While working there she was sexually abused by a client.  Not long after that incident, in December 2015, a man told her that she would send her to work in another karaoke bar in Singapore.  She wanted to get away and start again somewhere new...

but this man ended up being a pimp and he sold her to a brothel in Malaysia. There she was terribly beaten. After a while she tried to escape and one time while trying to escape, the police saw her.  Thankfully, they were good police officers and sent her to a local NGO in Malaysia. The local NGO then contacted the International Labour Organization (ILO), who referred Trieu to Hagar.

A few weeks ago, Hagar staff picked her up at the airport in Vietnam and she is now at the Recovery Center. Hagar has been supporting her mostly with healthcare (she broke her back while running away in Malaysia) and counseling.

Your support made this happen.  Thank you for helping women like Trieu have a chance at true recovery!


*Names have been changed for client protection



Thank you!  Because of your support the women at Hagar Vietnam's shelter are finding hope and able to live life more normally.  There is a woman who came to Hagar's care hiding from her husband because he had abused both her small children and they needed a save place to stay.  You helped create a safe place for her and her children.  

At the shelter they are able to live in a normal house, and come and go as they please.  They go on outings and field trips and are able to laugh, play and begin to realize that life holds so much hope and joy.  You have helped us to be able to see smiles on these faces.

Thank you!


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Organization Information

Hagar USA, which supports the work of Hagar International

Location: Charlotte, NC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.hagarusa.org
Project Leader:
Catherine Sherrod
Director of Development
Pheonix, AZ United States

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