The event, which was organized by the Women’s Union of Bac Giang Province, Ngoc Ly Prison, and the Vietnam Women’s Publishing House, centered around the theme of rebuilding and recovery after imprisonment. It sparked many meaningful conversations and personal stories from both guest speakers and the prisoners themselves.

One of the guest speakers, Nguyen Quoc Vuong, shared simple life lessons he learned from his experience as a struggling overseas student in Japan. He spoke about his journey from hardship to success, hoping to inspire the prisoners to overcome their challenges.

Guest speaker Nguyen Quoc Vuong speaks to the prisoners at Ngoc Ly Prison, Bac Giang Province, northern Vietnam, October 19, 2023. Photo: T. Dieu / Tuoi Tre

Guest speaker Nguyen Quoc Vuong speaks to the prisoners at Ngoc Ly Prison in Bac Giang Province, northern Vietnam, October 19, 2023. Photo: T. Dieu / Tuoi Tre

Another guest speaker, To Giang, who was once a convict in Australia, talked about his journey to rebuild his life after serving his prison sentence.

While pursuing his dream of wealth and happiness in Australia, Giang was involved in illegal activities and was later arrested. During his time in prison, he found inspiration through a wrongly-incarcerated monk and a compassionate female prison guard. He learned English and prepared for his return to Vietnam, only to find his family broken and his mother seriously ill.

Author To Giang speaks to the prisoners of Ngoc Ly Prison, Bac Giang Province, northern Vietnam, October 19, 2023. Photo: T. Dieu / Tuoi Tre

Author To Giang speaks to the prisoners of Ngoc Ly Prison in Bac Giang Province, northern Vietnam, October 19, 2023. Photo: T. Dieu / Tuoi Tre

However, he accepted these hardships and gradually rebuilt his life.

During the event, To Giang presented his two books about his experiences in prison and his quest for kindness and enlightenment to the 800 female inmates.

Khuc Thi Hoa Phuong, the director and editor-in-chief of Vietnam Women’s Publishing House, also shared her experiences working with women from various backgrounds, showing kindness and understanding to the female prisoners.

A prisoner at Ngoc Ly Prison, Bac Giang Province, northern Vietnam enjoys a book during a talk show, October 19, 2023. Photo: T. Dieu / Tuoi Tre

A prisoner at Ngoc Ly Prison in Bac Giang Province, northern Vietnam enjoys a book during a talk on October 19, 2023. Photo: T. Dieu / Tuoi Tre

Many prisoners were moved by the atmosphere of honesty and empathy, and some even shared their own stories of hardship and hope for the future.

Trinh Thi Ha, a prisoner with multiple convictions in Vietnam, Singapore, and Hong Kong, spoke about her own life story. Despite her criminal record, people listened to her with compassion, understanding the difficult circumstances she faced since childhood.

Trinh Thi Ha, a prisoner at Ngoc Ly Prison, Bac Giang Province, northern Vietnam speaks during a talk show, October 19, 2023. Photo: T. Dieu / Tuoi Tre

Trinh Thi Ha, a prisoner at Ngoc Ly Prison in Bac Giang Province, northern Vietnam speaks during a talk on October 19, 2023. Photo: T. Dieu / Tuoi Tre

Sung Thi Chu, a Hmong ethnic prisoner, also shared her optimism despite the tragedies and hardships she has faced. Chu, who has limited education and has experienced poverty and difficulties in her personal life, expressed her desire for support in farming and caring for her children after her release.

As the event came to an end, everyone involved, from the guest speakers to the prisoners, learned valuable lessons about empathy and acceptance.