Mảy didn’t fit the typical profile of a victim of human trafficking.
Happily married and with an infant son, Mảy was excited about the future. She and her husband, Sinh, lived in a small town high up in the spectacular mountains of northern Vietnam. Many families around them were poor, but Sinh was a school teacher, so their lives were stable and their future looked promising.
Looking after their little boy all day, Mảy started to think about getting a job. She simply wanted to contribute more to her family’s income. With her own mother living there in the same house and able to help with childcare, it seemed sensible that she might at least try.
So when she met someone on Facebook who was offering to connect her with a job in another city, Mảy was curious. At least, she thought, this was worth looking into.
One day while Sinh was at work, Mảy’s online friend messaged her unexpectedly with some surprising news. She was travelling through a nearby city – not very far from Mảy’s home!
Mảy was suddenly excited. Her home life was so quiet and predictable; she rarely had visitors or chances to make new friends. Without hesitation, she set off to the market to meet this lovely person she had been communicating with. Mảy left her son sleeping under the watchful eye of her mother.
That night, Mảy did not come home. Her loving husband, Sinh, returned from work with no idea where she had gone or might be. Mảy’s mother was very worried and their little boy was distressed. But from Mảy, there was nothing. Only silence.
In the coming days and weeks, Sinh did everything he could to find out what had happened. Had Mảy left him and abandoned their son? He refused to believe it possible – they were so in love. They were happy together.
The days of not knowing where Mảy was, if she was dead or alive, filled Sinh with terror.
And then, one day, the phone rang.
Mảy was in China. Her call to Sinh was filled with panic and fear.
She had met her online friend at the market, and they had travelled into the hills for some sightseeing. But the friend had other motives: a gang was waiting outside the town to take hold of Mảy and sell her to a man who was willing to pay for a Vietnamese wife.
Mảy fought and resisted, but she was overpowered. It was a full month before she could even find a way to call for help. Making that call put her life in danger, but she didn’t care. Mảy would do anything to be back with her loving family.
This call from Mảy both horrified Sinh and empowered him. He knew that his wife had not abandoned him – and was determined to find her. He committed to doing everything he possibly could to bring her home.
Sinh reported to the police and contacted anyone who might help, including Blue Dragon. The phone number gave us a clue as to which city she was in and from there we could track Mảy down to an outlying suburb. Armed with that information, we sent a team to start the search.
Sinh called us daily, hoping for news that Mảy was safe. Every day of waiting was a lifetime of agony.
Within a month, we had found Mảy. Locked inside an apartment, she had to wait until the man who had bought her was out shopping, and then break down the front door to escape. It was frightening, but successful. Mảy was free.
We brought her back to the border and after a short stay in COVID quarantine, she was finally back together with Sinh and their baby son. Sinh rode his motorbike over 200km of treacherous mountains to meet Mảy the moment she was released from the quarantine centre.
Mảy’s ordeal of being trafficked and sold will haunt her forever. Now that she is home, she wants nothing more than to be with her family. Love found a way to bring Mảy and Sinh back together, and now every new day is a precious gift of life.
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation is working to end human trafficking. This Valentine’s Day, and every day, we want people of all ages to enjoy loving, healthy lives, free from slavery and homelessness.