by Tran Van Thang, CWS Vietnam Project Officer.
“When you came to teach us, we learned how to lead awareness-raising discussion with other students.” – Ha Ngoc Linh, Communications Interest Group member.
When I heard this from Linh, a student at Muong Kim commune Primary School, following an info session about human trafficking risks and prevention, I was very happy. In talking with Linh, I learned that she is from an ethnic Thai family who live in an all-Thai village. There are three sisters, and Linh, a 5th grader, is eldest.
What impressed me most about the gathering was that she and other students in the after-school communications interest group organized the session themselves…from the beginning to the end. Their knowledge of the topic coupled with their confidence to share essential information with their peer students was most impressive.
“In the past”, Linh reminded me, “only teachers gave lectures and presentations. Since you, ‘Teacher Thang’ (as she called our CWS colleague) came and taught us, we learned how to share information among ourselves and our friends. This is a very important topic for us, so we other students to know. When we first started to learn how to communicate with confidence, all of us were afraid or shy to stand and talk to our school mates. Because peer education is totally new at her school, Linh recalls that some students “were laughing and making us embarrassed”. In fact, the listeners were the ones who were uneasy. “Now that we are more confident, we look forward to leading more activities like this”.
Human trafficking is a longstanding risk in rural Vietnam, as it is in all of southeast Asia, where criminal networks are strong and pervasive as are poverty and vulnerability. In Vietnam, the project that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America supports is called NEW IDEA. It was designed in partnership with ethnic minority communities to address myriad challenges for children. The risks from trafficking is one of the challenges NEW IDEA addresses.
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