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By Fr. Ambrose Pereira, SDB

Port Moresby, PNG, 15 September 2019 -- Young migrants, refugees and persons detained in Papua New Guinea struggle to get past 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, a cultural and religious uprooting as well…” Their stories get past the unsurmountable requirements and can stir the hearts of several persons who generously step forward to assist and help them. Here, the Church can serve as a point of reference for these people. “The Church has an important role and can bring new life to them” (Christus vivit Ch 3, 93).

Sr. Teresa Vu Phuong Thuy Trinh, FMA , assigned in Sidea, Alotau until 2018, had been looking after the needs of Vietnamese detainees, and served as interpreter and mediator for them at court hearings. With her help, 105 Vietnamese fishermen were repatriated in June 2018. They were able to re-join their families back home, thanks to the courage of this small Sister and the support given by her Salesian community.

Recently, five male Vietnamese detainees were repatriated after having been incarcerated in the Bomana Correctional Institution in Boroko, Port Moresby. Sr. Teresa, with invaluable support from her congregation, 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 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 the Commanding Officer, who was happy to work together with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. He mentioned 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 united with their families after being deported from Papua New Guinea on the 3rd September, 2019.


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