Hiep grew up in the mountains of Northern Vietnam. Hagar staff still remember the first time they visited her at home after she called the Hagar hotline. They arrived in Hiep’s village just before sunset, and then had to walk another hour to find her house. The only way they knew they’d reached the right place was when they heard her voice.
Hiep has eight brothers and sisters. When she was younger, Hiep didn’t feel loved or known by her parents because they were always away trying to make money to feed their children. When she was 17, Hiep left home. A friend of their family told her about an ‘exciting’ job opportunity across the border. Hiep didn’t know it, but she was on her way to being sold to someone in China. Fortunately, a border guard stopped her as he was suspicious she was being trafficked. She didn’t have an ID and she didn’t seem to know where she was going.
The government supported Hiep and she was sent to a vocational training centre. After six months of being there, Hiep discovered she was pregnant. She was expelled from the centre and her boyfriend left her. Hiep was referred to Hagar Vietnam.
Hiep couldn’t comprehend that there was a life growing inside of her. She was five months pregnant, and she was sure that the baby would be a burden. Hiep was so desperate to not be pregnant that she would lift heavy objects, run fast up and down stairs, and sometimes hit her own stomach. Hagar provided medical care, psychological support, accommodation and parenting skills for Hiep.
She was encouraged to take better care of herself through a nutrition programme and regular check-ups. Hiep struggled to bond with her baby, but she patiently persisted in trying to. She would sit and listen to music and try to speak to the baby. Over time, Hiep found joy in the way the baby responded to her voice. She loved it when he would kick. On the day of her delivery, Hiep was very nervous. The first time she held her son, she was afraid she might drop him, but Hagar staff showed her how to hold him and feed him. Now, the baby is the light of Hiep’s life.
Hiep learnt how to be a barista through vocational training with Hagar. She had to leave her son in Hagar’s care at times, and she missed him terribly, but knowing he existed gave her the hope she needed to push through.
“Life is tough and people are unpredictable, but I have to work hard for myself and my son. After a long day at work, a photo of my son motivates me to try harder tomorrow.”
Hiep’s vocational training helped her gain knowledge and skills she needs to support herself and her son. Today, Hiep is thriving, working with a supportive team and pursuing a new-found passion for her career. She works in a hotel near her hometown, which means she can stay close to her son while she earns a living.