Cazzie Reyes is a Researcher for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center's Anti-Trafficking Programs. She graduated from Bradley University with a Bachelor's degree in International Studies and a minor in Women's Studies.
After a morning of formal interviews, lunch at the Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Brides Office was a welcome chance to get to know the staff and residents in a more relaxed environment. Over a meal of steamed rice, vegetables, fish and chicken, we shared stories and laughed over well-meaning teasing. It was astounding to see Dao — one of the women helped by the office — speak and move with such confidence. A few minutes prior, she was recounting the past eight years of her life.
Originally from Vietnam, Dao came to Taiwan to work in a factory making garments for high-end clothing companies. After two years, she went back home to Vietnam. Not long after, however, she returned to Taiwan to take a position at a factory producing electronics. This time, the brokers arranging her work papers falsified documents and got her through immigration via a fake marriage.
A note about the broker system in Vietnam:
"The broker system is a root cause of trafficking between Vietnam and Taiwan. Vietnamese law requires migrant workers to go through brokers, and workers must pay a $4,000 fee in order to leave the country. Understandably, most cannot afford this amount; so, they end up selling their property and accepting shark loans just to have the opportunity to work abroad. Once abroad, workers find themselves in debt bondage since their housing, meals and other expenses are covered by and must be repaid to their brokers and employers."
“They took me to work in an electronics company until I fell sick. Then I asked for my health papers so that I could see a doctor. They wouldn’t give them to me. That’s when I found out that they used a fake marriage to traffick me.
At that time, I discovered all the papers were fake, so I couldn’t use those documents to get help. I stayed with that company until — through the help of my friends — I was able to find work at another factory. I escaped, and the new company allowed me to work with them until the stay date on my documents expired.
I wanted to go home after that, but many people told me that if I went home I would be arrested. And if I tried to process my papers, immigration would have arrested me.
So, I cried and talked to my mom. My mom was in Vietnam, and to help me, she searched the internet for possible resources and aid. She found out about this office and asked me to come here.
That was two years ago. My pending case has ended, and now I am studying business management. My hope is to find a good job and be employed in a factory or company with a management role.”
Dao plans to stay in Taiwan for the time being but often video chats with her family back home in Vietnam. Through her own hard work and assistance from the Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Brides Office, Dao now has the freedom to manage her own life and determine her future career plans.
“Freedom for me is the ability to say what I feel like saying…to say whatever I want to say. It means that others cannot control me or force me to think the way that they think.”
Learn more about our trip to Taiwan and Reverend Peter's work on the TIP Heroes Global Network blog.
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