In 2010, I met two Hmong girls, M and P, in a small town in the mountains of far northern Vietnam. The following year both girls were abducted and trafficked to China, where they were sold as wives.
Six months ago, on my last visit to that mountain town, I told M and P's families I'd do all I could to locate their daughters in China. At that time, nobody had seen either girl for almost three years, and it seemed highly unlikely we'd ever succeed in finding and meeting with them.
M's father in particular was extremely skeptical. Over the years, others had come promising help. They'd taken M's birth certificate and photographs, and had never returned.
We were no different, he told us - but he was wrong.
Yesterday I returned to that mountain town, carrying photos and videos of our meetings with both M and P in China, and a copy of M's wedding video. I shared these things today with M's mother and eldest sister, who were delighted to see M for the first time in over three years.
There were mixed emotions as they watched M in her wedding gown, marrying a strange man so far from home.
They wanted to know where she's living now, what kind of place it is, and how many days and nights it takes to get there by bus. There was a great deal of speculation about M's husband and his family, and admiration of her baby girl.
There were many more questions I was simply unable to answer. Before long, I hope M will be here to answer them herself - because no amount of photos or videos can replace a stolen girl.
I hope to meet also with P's mother and M's father over the coming days.
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