The issue of human trafficking remains one that still deeply impacts the lives of women and children in Vietnam. Although Vietnam has seen tremendous economic growth in recent years, many in the country still live disadvantaged lives. This particularly affects women and children who, without access to proper education, the opportunity for a brighter future remains precarious.
This vulnerable segment of society has limited choices for earning a living, and questionable opportunities to earn “big” money that tempts them with the ability to secure the survival of their families. Often enticed by job offers overseas, thousands of women fall prey to human traffickers every year. In many cases these offers come from people they know and trust. These jobs frequently take them to neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and China. Other victims are sent to Malaysia, and on to the rest of the world.
Founded by Marie Watson, Hope Unending, Inc., a Non-Profit Organisation based in Saigon, was established to abolish abuse and sexual exploitation across all nations. Designed to address the needs of sexually exploited and vulnerable populations through prevention, restoration and promotion of social justice, the organisation strongly embraces self-sustaining concepts by training local people to confront issues themselves, rather than being reliant on outside groups.
Hope Unending achieves this through locally-based social empowerment centres. Through these, it helps raise awareness of the potential threats facing vulnerable members of society, as well as providing educational programmes designed to prevent social and sexual violations. The centres provide a nurturing environment which allows impacted individuals the opportunity to work towards restoration and community regenerations through individual counseling, education, training and vocational skills development.
Marie began her work with vulnerable women in South Africa in 2000 where she established a centre to support local women suffering from years of physical and sexual abuse. In 2006, Marie handed over the operations of the organisation to local staff who had been trained to continue her work, as she investigated further ways to assist those caught in abused and trafficked lifestyles.
In 2010, Marie moved to Saigon with her husband to continue her work, and establish new safe places for women that have experienced human trafficking in Vietnam. Through Hope Unending, she offers compassion and acceptance to victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. “However dire situations appear, we believe we can help trafficked and abused individuals regain control of their lives,” Marie tells me, “Given the right tools and guidance, each person can have improved self-esteem, viable life skills and be successfully reintegrated into society.”
“Our vision is to empower and equip women with life skills and abilities to make pro-active choices that will change their lives,” she continues. “The goal is for people not merely to survive, but to thrive in their individual goals and dreams. We work to re-establish individual self-worth based on the tenants of mercy – through providing life choices. Also we teach compassion,which teaches love for others, irrespective of status or reason. Finally, we teach service, a practice that instills self-worth and purpose.”
“Through these value-based pillars, we encourage human progress and productivity for both the individual, as well as those who partner with us in this worthwhile endeavor,” Marie says. “We believe that as we give to others, the reward is great both globally and personally.”