OK, I confess: I'm a texter.
I guess it's the introvert side of my nature that much prefers to send text messages from my phone than to ring. It drives some people crazy, so it's always nice to meet others who also prefers to text than to talk.
Over the 7 years or so that Blue Dragon has been in operation, I can't imagine how many messages I've sent and received. The irony is that when I left Australia, back in March 2002, one of my quiet joys was packing away my mobile phone, thinking: I won't be needing that again.
I was wrong!
Many of my days are shaped by the messages that reach me. Sometimes I need to keep my messages recorded (or at least transcribed) for the sake of keeping evidence!
This morning started off with this one: Can you buy me some rice or something to eat? I want to be safe. Last night someone tried to kill me.
Going back a few years, I was having what we Australians call "a shocker" of a day. Among countless other messages going back and forth, one of my staff sent me this: I am with her in the brothel now. An hour and a half later, in response to my message asking Are you OK? the reply was: Not yet. Can you ask someone to contact the police? (This was one of our rescue trips to retrieve trafficked girls - and everything turned out fine in the end).
At times the messages which reach my phone can be quite emotional. In January this year, I met a street kid in Ho Chi Minh City who had apparently never had somebody show any real concern for him before. I was in town for just a few days, and spent a lot of time with him and his relatives, who saw him as being nothing more than a worker for their family business. When I left to return to Hanoi, the boy sent me this message: Em khoc sap het nuoc mat roi, which roughly translates as: I've nearly cried away all my tears already. Looking back at that message still leaves me feel a pit in the bottom of my stomach.
Other messages bring me real happiness. After our China trip in March this year, one of my staff accompanied the three girls back to their villages to reunite them with their families. This was the message I received: I just came back from the village. It was great. The girls were very happy. Wish you could hear a thousand thankful words.
And then there are the abusive messages - I get some of those, too! Not everyone appreciates the work I do, it seems. But I won't repeat any of them here...