Vietnamese woman sold in China returns home after 22 years

By Hai Binh   June 14, 2016 | 03:50 am PT
Vietnamese woman sold in China returns home after 22 years
Nguyen Thi Hong and her son. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Binh
Some clothes, her 10-year-old son and high hopes of escaping poverty were all Nguyen Thi Hong, a poor famer, took with her on a fateful journey to China 22 years ago.

Born in a poor village in the north-central province of Nghe An, Hong married a poor famer when she turned 20.

Living in abject poverty spurred Hong to look for a way to change her life. And the opportunity came one day in 1994 when a stranger offered Hong her friendship and a cushy, high-paying job that required no specific skills or profession.

The stranger said that Hong could bring her son with her to the “dream land” in the north of Vietnam.

At midnight some days later, Hong quietly left the house with her son, taking with her only some clothes and leaving her husband completely oblivious to what was going on. The train did head north as the stranger promised, but crossed the border into China.

Hong fainted after eating 'banh mi' provided by her new "friend", and when she woke up her son was nowhere to be seen and her friend was bargaining with a Chinese man who wanted to buy her to be his wife.

At that time, all her hopes of a better life were dashed. She could not speak Chinese and did not have a penny in her pocket, meaning there was no chance of escape.

Hong succumbed to her fate and married the Chinese man without resisting.“Luckily, I was sold to a man who cared for and loved me,” she said. Her new husband was 20 years older than her.

Hong started to learn Chinese after the wedding. When she was able to speak Chinese, the trafficking story came out. The husband thought she had come voluntarily, but Hong told him how she had been tricked and sold in China.

Sympathizing with his wife, Ly Ke Khiu accompanied her to search for her lost son. The couple suspected that the child had been sold to a circus.

Time passed, and their hopes faded. A year after that, the woman ended the search and bore two children to the Chinese man.

Five years ago, the husband passed away.

Out of the blue in 2012, a Vietnamese friend from Hong's home village visited her. It turned out that he knew her son, who had just turned 32. He had been sent back to the village after the mother fainted on the train.

For the first time in more than 20 years, Hong heard her son’s voice again, but it took another four years for him to save up enough money to travel to China and bring his mother home.


Hong, her son and grandchildren. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Binh

“I thought you were dead so I set up an altar for you,” the son said to his mother. “It was like a dream. I could not believe that my mother was still alive,” he added.

Hong now lives in Vietnam with her son and grandchildren, something she thought would never be possible.

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> Vietnamese woman trafficked to China returns after 22 years

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