Why Migrants Take The Journey
On 23 October 2019, the bodies of 39 Vietnamese people—29 men, 2 boys, and 8 women—were found in the trailer of an articulated refrigerator lorry in Grays, Essex, United Kingdom.
Last night I watched the BBC documentary that was released a couple of days ago on the tragic deaths of the 39 Vietnamese people. A harrowing watch. The thought of what went through their minds in the final minutes they had, many contacted their families apologising for not being able to support them anymore. Absolutely heartbreaking.
As the door of the lorry was opened a cloud of smoke evaporated out of the lorry, a cloud of hopes and dreams of those inside.
There is no doubt this has an effect on all of us. As I climbed into bed last night I thought about the poor people and the harrowing details of the documentary, however deep down I know that many others, in the rural villages I work alongside, face daily hardships forcing them to make these treacherous journeys.
Just last week more than 1,100 people made a perilous journey across the channel in small boats. People desperate for a new life, embarking on these journeys with hope of a better future.
One of the 39 Essex lorry victims was Pham Thi Tra My, 26, who wanted to work in the UK beauty industry, but her life ended in the lorry while texting her mother, "My route to abroad does not succeed. Mum, I love you so much. I am dying because I can't breathe. Mum, I'm very sorry."
One lady shared how they were struggling financially in Vietnam, and couldn't afford to educate their children, so they made the decision that her husband would go and try to earn a better income for his family in the UK. He didn't want to go and throughout the journey he called them often up to ten times a day.
I know as I watched the documentary last night that the 39 migrants who were tragically killed are just the tip of the iceberg and there are millions who face poverty on a daily basis, and are forced to make these highly dangerous journeys. Through our projects I have met families across Asia who have had to make horrific decisions to sell their own family members in order to provide for others. Again this is not uncommon. Can we even process that?
The documentary highlighted for me how absolutely crucial preventive measures and strategies are in reaching those people before it is too late.
Hope and Light projects in Vietnam, South-East Asia and Pakistan train and equip girls and women from rural villages, where poverty and a lack of education leave them at risk of trafficking and exploitation. The girls are taught jewellery making, craft skills, sewing and hairdressing. Simple preventive measures make a huge difference in the lives of these families. Ultimately through these programmes and through outreach, we are slowly building relationships and sharing the true freedom and hope they can find in Him.
I lay in bed last night again thinking of those poor people who lost their lives in the Essex lorry and their hopes for a better future for their families. I thought back to the reasons why I left my teaching post and founded the charity Hope and Light - having a passion to help victims of forced labour, who have been exploited through poverty and desperation. I thought that even if I helped one girl or one family, then my efforts would not be in vain. The only way to stop this being repeated for millions is one by one.
We are so privileged in the West, and we take so many luxuries we have for granted, myself included. So for now I will strive on and with your help continue to make an impact no matter how small. I don't have all the answers, I don't know what is behind the doors, the doors that will close and those that will open, the lives I will meet or how I will even do it. However, what I do know is that God has called me to this work and He will provide and show me the way.
"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."
Please continue to pray for the work of Hope and Light. It is so much more than selling jewellery and I am so thankful to you for your faithfulness in prayer and for all your support.