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Life is a long story Posts

The Hero of Zero

The social workers at Blue Dragon have some very polite expressions to deal with the daily horrors they encounter. Chief among them: “Complicated.” When I hear a social worker saying that a family is “complicated,” I understand the meaning to be: “You’ve never seen a horror movie like you’re about to see.” Thoan is from a “complicated” family. This doesn’t mean his parents don’t love him, but it does mean he has endured neglect and abuse at home, and he carries the burden of guilt for whatever terrible things have…

Now I’m appealing

It’s the time of the year when Blue Dragon is asking for money. The annual Rescue Appeal. That doesn’t make a very compelling opening line to my blog, does it? Shouldn’t I open with a powerful story – maybe something to make you all emotional and feel  inspired to donate? There are plenty of stories to tell. Scroll back through the blog, visit the Blue Dragon website, or even go look at my earlier blog. But now is the time that I need to ask. I created Blue Dragon in 2003 because there…

Midnight

I’m a terrible dinner guest. Invite me to your house, sit with me around a table, and ask me how my day was. I will tell stories that turn you off your meal. I will talk about the young mother who was tricked into following a trafficker into China, then tortured and raped until she complied with their demand that she “marry” a stranger. I will tell the story of the 2 boys who were living with Blue Dragon but then enticed away to join a criminal gang, which lends…

Pet projects

When I first met Son, he struck me as an intelligent, empathetic boy who had an unusually well developed combination of empathy and leadership skills. Later, when I learned that he had a long history as a gang leader, I was initially surprised, although I probably shouldn’t have been. All of the qualities that served him so well in the Blue Dragon shelter – his ability to get along with others, his can-do attitude, his integrity – ensured his success out on the streets. Son was 15 then, and is…

Dying of regret

Sot’s every word is labored. His breathing is shallow and he coughs each time he pauses. He’s barely 22 years old, and he’s facing the prospect of dying very soon. We sit in a café, and we talk about life. There is still hope for Sot; medication might yet clear up his lungs, which are wracked with tuberculosis, but the future is deeply uncertain. The medicine is subsidized but visits to the hospital are not free. His doctor at the hospital has tried in the past to hold back some…

A whole world to fix

Trang had a good, steady job. She earned enough in the local fish processing plant to look after herself and her 2 sons; while she wasn’t rich by any measure, she was able to get by and she was proud of her small family. When an environmental catastrophe hit north-central Vietnam in 2016, caused by a major steel mill discharging poison into the ocean, Trang’s job was among the first to go. With 200 km (125 miles) of coastline contaminated, all sealife in the region was devastated. There were simply…

All in this…

I’ve posted an article on LinkedIn, discussing the pitfalls to current approaches that governments are taking to fight human trafficking. www.linkedin.com/pulse/all-together-michael-brosowski To end trafficking, we have to use our resources as best we can. There’s some evidence that countries may be taking a ‘siloed’ approach, trying to deal only with forms of trafficking which directly affect them, and I fear that there’s no way to succeed if we work like that. This issue is too important for us to mess up.   Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation rescues kids in crisis.

The long story

This first shot at getting back to the blog finds me quite far from home. I am in Zurich today, and heading to Ireland tomorrow where I will be speaking about human trafficking and what my organization in Vietnam has learned about it over the years. The story of Blue Dragon is one of unlikely success. We started back in 2002 as a group of friends in Hanoi wanting to help street kids; I was an English teacher in a university and most of those working alongside me were economists.…

It’s been a while

Blogging is a wonderful routine. Over the years I have blogged on and off – first here and now here – and have found it a reflective, thoughtful exercise to follow. In recent months I’ve become a lapsed blogger, and not for want of something to write about. Plenty has been happening here at Blue Dragon and there has been much to share… but somehow I fell out of the discipline of routine. It’s time now to reverse that! I’m going to start writing again, with a new post each…

The right KPI

Mr Tuan and Uncle Toan both passed away last week. Mr Tuan died in hospital, his lungs wracked with tuberculosis. He spent his last weeks drifting in and out of lucidity, rarely recognising anyone or anything around him. His funeral was held in his hometown on Thursday. We met Mr Tuan 2 years ago. He was sleeping in an ATM booth here in Hanoi with his 2 children, who were then aged 6 and 8. A son and a daughter, homeless with their father yet safe in his strong arms. Blue…