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Papua New Guinea – A heroic sister helps her fellow countrymen: a Vietnamese FMA in Sideia Island

03 May 2017

(ANS – Alotau) – Sr. Ma Theresa Trinh Vu Phuong, FMA, has been helping Vietnamese fishermen to be freed and repatriated to their home country. Over 130 of these Vietnamese fishermen have been detained in the prisons of Alotau, Giligili and Bomana in Papua New Guinea for illegally fishing and harvesting berche-de-mere in Milne Bay Province. Sr. Trinh looks after the needs of these Vietnamese detainees and serves as interpreter and mediator for them at court hearings.

By Bp. Rolando Santos, CM

Bishop of Diocese of Alotau-Sideia

The nun also communicates with their families back home, and arranges for payment of penalties and getting all the necessary documents and tickets for them to fly back home to Vietnam. Sr. Trinh is a Vietnamese Salesian Sister working in a girls’ skills training Institute in Sideia Island, diocese of Alotau.

It is very disturbing that these young Vietnamese fishermen might be victims of human trafficking. They are used by whoever employs them to fish illegally without a proper licence or any guarantee of protection or security from their employers. There is an urgent humanitarian need to put a stop to this. It is a serious abuse on the rights and dignity of these young men to be sent out by their recruiters to fish in illegal waters without a proper licence and without any guarantee of protection or security. Once caught, they are almost totally forgotten and abandoned. The rights of these young men need to be respected, and a better employment worthy of their dignity be afforded to them.

Sr. Trinh was already able to successfully process the repatriation of 87 Vietnamese fishermen. About 18 more will soon follow. All will soon be able to re-join their families back home, thanks to the courage of this small sister and the support given by her Salesian community.

The Governor of Milne Bay Province has expressed his deep gratitude to Sr. Trinh for the help she has given in facilitating the case of the Vietnamese detainees. The diocese is proud of her. Her charity is truly heroic and worthy of emulation.

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