July 19, 2005
So, I have been in Bangkok for the last few days. I came here with Sister Malee, another nun, and two of the older girls living at Thien Binh. The purpose of the trip is to bring the two girls over to Bangkok to stay for a few months and go to school. They will be living with a friend of Sister Malee's and study her profession - hair cutting.
The two girls are named My and Thao. My is 19 years old and was adopted by Sister Malee when she was very young. She is from one of the mountainous tribes in Vietnam. Her relationship with Sister Malee is difficult to understand. Sister has very high expectations of her and is extremely hard on her. My tells me that she has thought about running away many times but then she realizes that she has no where to go. Her parents left her when she was a kid and she has no relatives or even friends outside of Thien Binh. She is one of the strongest people I have ever met but the constant verbal abuse that she endures would wear anyone down. She doesn't dare take a step without permission from Sister Malee - I am not exaggerating. Yet, Sister Malee claims to love My dearly and in fact she has taken care of her for many years. My does not want to become a hairstylist. She likes stitching - especially the patterns on the robes that priests wear. My plans to become a nun.
Thao is the daughter of a couple who have a close relationship with Thien Binh. They often donate money to the orphanage. Their family is from the middle region of Vietnam. Last year they moved to Saigon because Thao had a pregnancy out of wedlock and the family did not want anyone they knew to find out about it. Thao was sent to live at Thien Binh until she gave birth and then she was allowed to return home. Her daughter Thu is now almost one year old and lives at Thien Binh. Thao made a promise to herself that she will take her daughter back before she reaches the age of two. Thao wants to learn a profession, any profession, so she can return home and take care of her daughter.
Both of the girls are very nervous about being here because they speak neither Thai nor English and have also never been away from Thien Binh for any extended amount of time. This morning we dropped the girls off at their new home. The plan is for them to stay there for 6 months but I don't know if they will be able to stick it out for that long. They are both extremely homesick already and it was hard for me to part with them.
The past few days we have spent doing a little sightseeing of Thailand. Last Saturday I looked across the Mekong river into Laos, hung out with the Archbishop of Thailand, and visited one of the oldest temples in the country. By Sunday we were back in Bangkok. On Friday I will fly back to Saigon and resume teaching at Thien Binh. Its funny that whenever I leave Thien Binh, even for a day or two, and then return it feels like I am coming home. I am anxious to get back.
Posted by Thuy_Nguyen at 08:04 AM