KENT, England: In May 2018, Border Force officers at Dover Port stopped 20-year-old Andrei Iancu for a vehicle check.
The officers looked through the car boot, finding bags and packets of crisps - and then they saw an arm protruding from a suitcase.
Phong, then 16, was freed from the partially open suitcase and immediately taken to hospital in life-threatening condition, the BBC reported.
Iancu later admitted to smuggling a person into the UK, and was jailed for 18 months in a young offender institution.
After a 6-day stay in hospital where he recovered, Phong, who is from Vietnam, was placed into foster care with Kent County Council.
On Saturday (Aug 17), the Kent County Council published a letter from Phong, where he thanked his foster carer and social workers.
"Dear England, I’m writing a letter to tell you what a difference you have made to my life," wrote Phong.
"You have saved my life. You have given me a family and a home."
Phong described initially being very fearful when he woke up in hospital not knowing what happened to him.
"I hurt all over my body and couldn’t eat. I could only use my neck and fingers just a little bit," he said.
After recovering, a social worker took him to a foster home.
"I had my own bedroom. It’s the first time I’ve had a bedroom. Now I have a mum, brother, sister, grandad, etc," Phong wrote.
He was taught how to speak English at his foster home, and then proceeded to learn more at Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN).
Three months into his stay in England, he began to study English and Mathematics in college. After 11 months, he passed his English examinations.
Phong’s foster carer, Christine Burge, described him as "an incredible young man", according to the BBC.
"He passed all of his exams, his confidence has grown and he has friends. He makes me very proud everyday. He really is the most caring and determined boy I have ever met.”
In September, Phong will take the next level of his English examinations in college.
"Thank you for finding me, making me better in hospital. Thank you for giving me a family, they love me and me too," said Phong in his letter.
"Thank you for giving me an education. Thank you social services and government for your help and care.
"I never believed I would be loved. There is now a big rainbow in my life instead of darkness."