One voice becomes many voices – Report from San Diego, CA!
OBV in San Diego: When Father Martino, Nga, Kim and I pulled up to the restaurant I wondered to myself “How many people are actually going to come? It’s July 4th, and everyone is going to miss the fireworks!” When we entered the building we were greeted by a group of the most kind, and generous people. Ranging from young adults to those who may have grandkids, the planning committee wore white One Body Village polos as they hustled and bustled about making sure everything ran smoothly. I peeked into the dining room, and I see many empty tables. I shouldn’t have worried; by the time the program was in full swing the tables were brimming with people. The program kicked off with a duet by an adorable young brother-sister duo, both of which are younger than ten years old! A smile spread across my face as I see little ones running around, playing and dancing to the music in their Stop Child Sex Slavery shirts they had bought last year. That’s one way to be a voice for the children!
Father Martino shared his experiences and stories, both heartbreaking and joyful. The program was embellished both by local talent, as well as singers Diep Thanh Thanh and Philip Huy. After his talk, Father Martino then asked if there were any questions. A hand shot up from the crowd and a gentleman approached Father Martino. He was wearing a black shirt, black pants and his name is Father Đoàn – the priest in charge of the Vietnamese community of Holy Spirit church! He smiled as he explained that he owed Father Martino for his ticket; he hadn’t paid for it yet. Since his payment was “late” he told us he was not only going to pay for the ticket, but he would pay 50 times the cost! The whole crows fell silent and I could see everyone trying to do the math in their heads… 20*50… one thousand dollars! Such a generous gift that will have such a large impact on many lives – the lives of many children that OBV saves and shelters.
Although Father Martino never asks for a single donation, many are moved by the plight of these poor children being forced into sex slavery. They approach committee members and Father Martino with donations large and small. They buy T-shirts to spread the word, and necklaces that were made by children we’ve saved in Vietnam. At the end of the night, I stood at the table, helping to sell t-shirts. Almost everyone had left, but a few stragglers remained, buying a shirt or two and talking to Father Martino. A gentleman says to us “You know what, I’ll buy the rest of the shirts that you have.” I think he’s kidding, but he couldn’t have been more serious. He bought every single shirt we had with us, with plans to donate them to his local TNTT chapter. Through him, one voice will become many as the children of San Diego wear their shirts proudly. We bring in $10,837.00 after all the expenses – that includes all donations and selling of our merchandises!
The event was success, and I was inspired by the passion and caring of each and every person there. Together, we can be a their voice, lend a hand, and make a difference!
Maria Anh Linh Nguyencong
Co-Director of Developments