In 1998, the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions began a project to provide a safe shelter for vulnerable young women in Vietnam. One of the sisters worked in a rehabilitation center for prostitutes sponsored by the Vietnamese government. When she saw how these vulnerable young women were treated by their families and the government, she was prompted to find a better alternative for them.
The idea for the Project: “Vulnerable Young Women and Trafficking” (VYWT) was a way to respond to this need. The project aims to help these women regain their dignity as persons of worth.
The majority of the young women who are served by VYWT come from families living in the slums around Saigon as well as from rural and fishing villages. Because these young women have little or no education, they are often forced to become prostitutes to help the family survive financially.
Police trucks regularly round up the women (averaging 20 to 30 years of age) who make their living on the streets of Ho Chi Minh. They are held for six months for each offense and are charged for food and board during their stay. On release, if the family cannot pay the cost, these women have no option but to return to the streets.
The primary goal of the VYWT project is to provide a safe place for these young women where family and/or brothels cannot find them. During their stay they are taught the skills they need to afford them the opportunity for alternative employment and a more satisfying way of life.