NFS Vietnam Update: Rescue in the days of COVID-19
It took Lan more than 4 years to find a chance of escape.
In the end, it was the coronavirus that gave her the opportunity to call for help.
Trafficked from Vietnam into Hunan province, she was sold to a violent Chinese man who treated her as an object and beat her mercilessly. But as the world panicked over COVID-19, he became distracted.
With their city in lockdown, the husband saw no reason to be paranoid that Lan might escape. His inattention allowed her to steal a mobile phone, and she called her family back in southern Vietnam.
We’re all waiting for this hated epidemic to pass. For so many, it means lost jobs, financial ruin, being trapped in a foreign country, or maybe just inconvenience. For Lan, the passing of COVID-19 is everything. Her life depends on it.
Co-Founder of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation – Michael Brosowski
Word reached Blue Dragon, and we contacted Lan immediately in the knowledge that for now, there’s almost nothing we can do other than plan. Heavily enforced travel restrictions in China have been successful in stopping the spread of the virus, but they have made rescue operations virtually impossible.
In recent weeks we have succeeded in getting several women and a 5 year-old girl back into Vietnam (they’re all in quarantine now), but nobody can get into or out of Hunan.
Tragically, the very reason that Lan could call for help is the same reason she can not get to safety.
There are almost 30 women and girls in this exact situation right now: in contact with us but waiting, waiting. We are on the phone daily, giving assurances and constantly evaluating whether or not someone can be reached.
But Lan can’t. Not yet.
On Wednesday night, Lan was pushed beyond her limits. With rescue still possibly weeks away but with the epidemic starting to pass, her husband again took to beating her.
And she couldn’t take any more.
Lan rang the Blue Dragon rescue team with a request: Please say sorry to my family. Tell them I love them, but death would be better than one more day of this.
She couldn’t wait one more night. Lan had decided to take her own life.
When the phone fell silent, we were left helpless and shocked. COVID-19 is devastating millions across the world. But something about this is an even greater depth of injustice.
The next day, after countless unanswered calls and messages, Lan rang back.
Her voice was weak and low, but recognisable: she is still alive.
We’re all waiting for this hated epidemic to pass. For so many, it means lost jobs, financial ruin, being trapped in a foreign country, or maybe just inconvenience.
For Lan, the passing of COVID-19 is everything. Her life depends on it.
Conversations about human trafficking often use the language of war. We’re fighting slavery. Combatting human trafficking. And anti-trafficking movements – like anti-war movements – abound. If the fight against trafficking really is like a war, it is a war without...
The headline figures are pretty exciting. Over 1,000 people rescued from slavery. That means: children who were in sweatshops; women and girls who were forced into prostitution or sold into marriages; young men sold onto fishing boats or into gold mines. Almost 6,000...
The rescue operation went exactly to plan. We located Sẻng in China, about 500km from the border from Vietnam. A team was able to get her back to an official checkpoint within 24 hours. Shortly after, she was safely back in Vietnam. Sẻng’s terrifying 4 months in...