Year Joined MKLM: 2015
Focus: Education, Pastoral Care
Project(s): Manos Con Libertad (FreeHands), Salomon Klein Orphanage
People Served: Children with learning disabilities, orphans, incarcerated and paroled women
Project Goal(s): To bring unconditional love and caring to those who need it most
Hong works at Manos con Libertad, a cooperative of San Sebastián Women’s Prison that serves prisoners and those on probation outside. She serves in administration and assists with accounts payable, inventory, payroll and other administrative duties. Hong also accompanies other volunteers to visit these women and their children in their own cell. In Bolivia, children under six years of age have no other choice but to live in the same prison with their mother. “When I first visited the prison, I was really scared, especially when we were searched extensively by the prison guards. But when I saw these little children living in the same cell with their moms, my heart just melted and when they ran toward me asking to be hugged, I just broke out and cried. Their eyes were so big and their smiles full of happiness, not much different than any other children that I’ve known.” Pope Francis said the Church “cannot remain silent, nor can her institutions turn a blind eye to the baneful reality of street children and street women.”
At Salomon Klein, an orphanage for abandoned children from newborn to six years of age, Hong takes care of the babies and spends time embracing and playing with the older kids. The children at Salomon Klein love Hong and they call her “mama” instead of her real name. “I love them like my own children and through them, I see the face of the infant Jesus. These children were abused or abandoned by their own family, and it’s understandable that they might grow up hating everyone, too. I want to spend time with them to let them know that they are loved, and I hope that they will eventually be able to forgive and start loving others again.” …”Then he said, ‘In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
Hong was born in Saigon, Vietnam, migrated to the USA and lived in Houston, TX. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Houston and worked as an administrative assistant, accounting and office manager and insurance agent. Hong helped support disabled and orphaned children, and an educational assistance program in Vietnam. With Stars of Hope, she served the homeless. Hong is an avid member of Christian Life Community and was very active in the Vietnamese Catholic community in her parish.
Hong shares this about joining MKLM and serving in mission: “I’ve been dreaming about doing mission for a long time, ever since I was very young.” Hong and her husband, Sonny, both serve as Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Cochabamba, Bolivia.