09/16/2019, 13.02
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Vietnamese migrants, refugees and detainees return to their families thanks to a nun

by Ambrose Pereira*

Sister Teresa Vu Phuong Thuy Trinh is a member of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA). Assigned to Sidea until 2018, she served as an interpreter and mediator. Thanks to her help, 105 fishermen were repatriated in June last year. Now in Italy for studies, she continues to her compatriots.

Port Moresby (AsiaNews) – Young migrants, refugees and people detained in Papua New Guinea struggle to overcome the barriers of language and culture, to get back to their homeland or to a third country. They experience a "separation from their places of origin, and often, also a cultural and religious uprooting as well . . . ".

Their stories get past insurmountable requirements and can stir the hearts of several people who generously step forward to assist and help them. Here, the Church can serve as a reference point for these people. “The Church has an important role and can bring new life to them” (Christus vivit, Chap. 3, par. 93).

Sister Teresa Vu Phuong Thuy Trinh (picture 1), a member of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA), was assigned to Sidea (near Alotau, in the country’s south-east) until 2018.

Until then, she looked after needs of Vietnamese detainees, and served as an interpreter and mediator for them at court hearings. With her help, 105 Vietnamese fishermen were repatriated in June 2018. Thanks to the courage of this small nun and the support given by her Salesian community, they were able to re-join their families back home.

Recently, five male Vietnamese detainees were repatriated after being incarcerated in the Bomana Correctional Institution in Boroko, Port Moresby. With invaluable support from her congregation, Sr Teresa assisted in negotiating with the Vietnamese Embassy in Indonesia to access passports, airline tickets and overnight accommodations in Manila, Philippines for these men before they headed home to Vietnam.

Bomana Correctional Centre Superintendent and Acting Commanding Officer Yelly Oiufa (picture 2) expressed his thanks to Mother Yvonne Reungoat, FMA, Mother General, and the congregation of the Salesian Sisters.

"I am greatly indebted to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians for their act of charity in helping the needy ones," wrote Superintendent Oiufa, adding that Sr Teresa had helped in the past, and that she continues to do so even though she is now studying in Italy.

The five detainees had spent three years in prison and are now happily re-united with their families after being deported from Papua New Guinea on the 3 September, 2019. 

* A member of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), Fr Ambrose Pereira is secretary of the Catholic Commission for Communications and Youth of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

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