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A change of title

In a staff training session recently, our Communications Manager asked us to think of what our job title really should be, given what we actually do at work. It was a light-hearted but revealing activity. Someone said that his title should be ‘Batman’ as he is a protector of homeless children. Another described herself as a “Bridge,” because she brings young people in trauma back to safety and connects them with their families. When it came to my turn, I said that I consider myself the CPB of Blue Dragon:…

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Recovery

Thuong married on Sunday. It was a beautiful wedding; she had long dreamt of this day and her family worked hard to make it perfect. Vietnamese weddings are packed with specific customs and traditions, all intended to ensure the marriage is a success, and Thuong’s family put in an extra effort to ensure nothing would be overlooked. Because Thuong’s wedding was a little special. It was just over a year ago that she made it home, after being trafficked and sold into a forced marriage in China. She was 14 years…

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Somebody should do something

Last week’s blog created some discussion around the issue of personal responsibility: what each of us can (and should) do when we see injustice and suffering. There’s no shortage of either injustice or suffering in our world, and nor is there going to be any time soon. Whether it’s Australia’s treatment of refugees, or the apparent rise in hate crimes against minorities in America, or the ongoing tragedy unfolding before our eyes in Syria, or the fact that the past 5 years are the hottest 5 years ever recorded, the…

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Be angry

Every day I meet children and young adults who have been through extraordinary trauma. If they lived in the west, their stories would be front page in the newspapers. There’s one story that always stands out to me as among the worst; and it’s one of the foundational stories behind why Blue Dragon began, back in 2003. Even before Blue Dragon was created, I was volunteering alongside Vietnamese and international friends to help out street kids we were meeting in Hanoi. We had no real plan to form a charity. We…

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Matters of significance

I’m flying back today from Australia to Vietnam. One of our friends in Sydney organized a terrific gala to raise money for Blue Dragon, so I headed over last week and joined in the event on Friday night. It really was a fantastic evening, with some awesome entrepeneurs attending all in the cause of helping kids in crisis. Normally I’d stick around a bit longer and spend more days in Sydney, which is my hometown. But this time, I have to get home to Hanoi for some matters of significance. Tuesday…

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TGIF

Emergency wards in hospitals are always terrible places to be. Nobody goes there when things are going well. Over the past 14 years of leading Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, I’ve had more occasions than I can recall to visit emergency wards here in Hanoi. The kids we work with tend to get into a fair bit of trouble – that’s why we work with them! – and so it’s not uncommon to get a call that someone has had a motorbike accident, or a skateboarding accident, or has suffered a…

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Safe

Last week I wrote about Canh, a teenage boy who has been living in an internet cafe and on the streets of Hanoi for the past year. He has been unable to return home, and wanting to join Blue Dragon but afraid he could not fit in. Instead, he’s been waiting for us to open a new safe house for kids in crisis; and on Friday we finally took the keys to the new building we’ve rented. Blue Dragon staff were there first thing in the morning, scrubbing the house…

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The best time of your life

Every other day, I get a text message from a boy named Canh. He’s 16 years old, but looks not a day over 12. He is tiny, and along with it he has a child-like laugh and air of innocence. Despite appearances, life has been hard on Canh. He lives in a dank internet cafe – Hanoi is littered with them – and spends his days staring at a screen, chain smoking. I don’t know how he makes money, but his closest friend is a teenage boy just slightly older than…

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Exceptional care

When my phone buzzes late at night, my first impulse is to wonder what’s wrong. Among the various roles that Blue Dragon plays in Vietnam, we are first and foremost a care provider to children with very special needs. It would be a rare week that went by without some emergency popping up, whether it’s one of our kids getting into trouble with the law, or a plea for help from a family whose child has gone missing. A late night call this week was to inform me that one of…

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Looking for impact

Thao and Tin’s rescue from a sweatshop in southern Vietnam changed the course of their lives. Thao, a 13 year old girl, and Tin, a 14 year old boy, had been locked into the upstairs of a garment factory for over 4 months by the time we found them. They had left their village in the north-west, close to the border of China, believing that they were on their way to a vocational training opportunity. Neither they nor their families had any idea they were to be used as slave…

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