Soon after she was married, Tra knew that her life would not be easy. Her husband was accused of damaging property and he was sent to jail for six months. Her mother-in-law did not consider Tra as a daughter-in-law but just as another source of income for the family. She expected Tra to make money while insulting and beating her.
While Tra was pregnant, her mother-in-law made her spray insecticide on the farm and sometimes beat her on her belly, saying that the baby was not her grandchild. Tra’s husband finally got out of jail but quickly became abusive towards her as well.
After she gave birth to her son, Tra sought refuge from her own family and returned to her parents’ home to live with her mother and four older siblings.
Tra was wrong in thinking that her parents’ home would be a safe shelter for her while being ostracised by her husband’s family. Seeing her and her son beat up and treated badly by her in-laws, her brother and sister-in-law not only didn’t sympathise with her, but actually tried to turn her away. They were afraid that if Tra kept staying home, they would have to share the family’s land and property with her as well. They beat and insulted her and one night they locked Tra and her son, who was younger than one year old, outside of the house until Tra’s mother returned home and let them in.
Having nobody to ask for support, and discovering that she was pregnant, Tra travelled to Hanoi to seek help from local NGOs and was eventually referred to Hagar. Together with her 1 year old son, she moved into Hagar’s Recovery Centre in November 2015 to begin her recovery journey.
“Hagar appeared when I was most desperate, taking my child to run away from my violent husband. If I didn’t find this house, I really have no where else to go to.”
Tra is now 25 years old and Hagar has been working side-by-side with her for nine months. Her journey was not a short one, with many ups and downs, but with dedication, patience and love, her case manager has helped her to establish a safe community environment for her and her children.
Tra gave birth to her second son in June this year. Initially, she had difficulties dealing with his birth, both physically and mentally. She wanted to give him away. She refused to get in touch with her family. She felt so unsure about her future and could not make a decision about her life.
She was worried about being away from her first son while she went to the hospital to deliver. The Hagar psychologist worked with her to build a plan for this temporary separation, as well as prepare her son to expect his younger brother. She decided to write a story about this to read to her son. Her son loved listening to the story and it was good preparation for him to be away from his mother for a time. She felt reassured and was more ready for the delivery.
“I’m so happy. I don’t know what else to say other than ‘Thank you’ for Hagar’s support to me and my two children. My older son was not as lucky as his brother, he did not get this kind of care and support when I gave birth to him.”
Through psychological counselling and skills building, Hagar has empowered Tra and built up her confidence. She was able to see returning home as the best solution for her to take care of her two children. Hagar also provided her with enough skills to deal with potential gossip, negative reactions, and discrimination from her community, which is what she feared the most at the beginning.
Hagar spent a lot of time working with Tra’s family. From being easy to give in to her brothers at the beginning, her mother now has become a strong advocate for her. She was happy to see her back and embraced her two grand-children. She talked to Tra’s brothers and cousins about Tra’s situation and asked for their sympathy and support.
Tra decided that she wanted to do farm work and raise cattle at home, and Hagar will support her through a micro-finance loan. In addition, Hagar will support her financially by paying for her older son’s tuition fee and milk for a few months, until she can get on her own feet. Also, Hagar will work with the local authorities to sort out identification papers for her younger son and help her get appropriate local support from the government, namely support for a single mother or a poor household. Hagar will continue to work with her family and provide them with infant care skills so that they can best support Tra.
Tra’s case manager brought her and her two children back home with great pride. Although it has been a bumpy journey, the destination is getting closer for her. This shows why Hagar commits itself in providing a holistic, long-term and comprehensive support.
“What I love and am most thankful for about Hagar is the fact that when I was alone at a very difficult time, Hagar opened its arms to hold me and offered me help without asking anything in return. I feel happy to be able to take care of my baby. I feel the joy watching him grow up day by day. I hope I have enough strength and power to overcome difficulties to offer my son all the best.”
To learn more about Hagar’s work in Vietnam, click here.
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